Mines kill dozens as Iraqis head back to Ramadi
Mines laid by Daesh Takfiri group have killed dozens of Iraqis returning to the liberated city of Ramadi in the western province of Anbar.
UN officials said Friday that explosives still unexploded across Ramadi keep claiming lives in the town four months after its recapture from Daesh.
That comes despite repeated warnings by local officials that civilians should take precautionary measures as most of Ramadi remains unsafe. Tens of thousands have flocked to their homes mostly following calls by political and religious figures whom the central government accuses of seeking financial gain by launching reconstruction projects before others.
In its latest estimates, the UN said 49 people have been killed and 79 others wounded in Ramadi since the beginning of February.
“The UN is deeply worried about the safety of returning families and the widespread infestation of many neighborhoods with unexploded devices and booby traps,” Lise Grande, UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, said, adding that figures provided by the authorities are “almost certainly an underestimation”.
The official demanded the government to accelerate efforts meant to clear areas in Ramadi as quickly as possible “using the most up-to-date, modern and professional methods”.
Lacking enough expertise for defusing the explosives, Iraq has contracted several foreign companies, including a US de-mining company, to remove explosives and train Iraqis to dismantle the devices planted by Daesh in Ramadi.
Reports by eyewitnesses say Daesh has littered Ramadi’s streets with bombs, while explosives are also planted in residences, including under rugs and other fixtures. Casualties have also been reported as residents attempt to restore electricity as bombs are connected to the power grid.
Iraq dealt a major blow to Daesh when its elite forces and allied tribal fighters managed to retake Ramadi in late December. The city, which lies around 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad, along some other territories in west and north, fell into the hands of Daesh in mid-2014. Baghdad has vowed to clear the entire Iraqi soil from the Takfiri group in 2016.