Nine Afghan children killed by landmine they were playing with

A Deminer in Afghanistan - Nine Afghan children killed by landmine they were playing with
Over 40,000 Afghan civilians have been killed or wounded by landmines and unexploded ordnance since 1988, according to the UN Mine Action Service - AFP/Javed Tanveer

Nine Afghan children were killed when a landmine they were playing with exploded, a local official said on Monday.

The mine, one of thousands laid during the country’s decades of conflict, went off as a group of young boys and girls were playing with it in the Geru district of Ghazni province on Sunday, said Hamidullah Nisar, the provincial head of the information and culture department.

“An unexploded mine left over from the time of the Russian invasion went off when they were playing with it,” he told AFP. “Unfortunately, it killed nine children.”

Mr Ghazni police said the children – five girls and four boys – were aged from four to 10 years old.

Swathes of Afghanistan are littered with unexploded mines, grenades and mortars from decades of conflict, spanning from the Soviet invasion in 1979, the civil war that followed, and the 20-year Taliban insurgency against foreign-backed governments.

Violence has reduced dramatically since the Taliban seized power in August 2021, ending their insurgency.

Unexploded ordnance and mines, however, still claim lives regularly, with the International Committee of the Red Cross saying children are the main victims.

Also on Sunday, another child died and five other people were wounded when unexploded ordnance went off in Herat province, local police said.