tanks can become overgrown and be a surprise when you come across
same is true of old military installations. This gutted plane
is at the side of an old airstrip - and mines were put all around
it because the departing soldiers knew that the enemy would
may be abandoned machinery at old military camps, but even when
there is not there are usually old trench systems. These may
be overgrown and hard to see. They are likely to have been
mined on the enemy side as a defensive measure. They may also
have been booby trapped and mined inside the trench system when
they were abandoned. Mines are not the only problem. Sometimes
they are not the main problem. In this picture there is a stick-grenade,
a mortar and an ammunition box with fuzes inside.
this trench, mines were found at 30cm depth because the sides
had fallen in since they were laid by the retreating forces.
This trench in Iraq was mined by local people, who moved fragmentation mines into the trench to get them out of their way.
overgrown fence like this is also a good indication of an area
defended with mines. This was an army depot. Defensive mines
were placed on both sides of the fence. Places where the military
had bases are always suspicious and the range of devices left
there can be extensive. These may have been placed defensively,
or to deny the area to anyone else.
essential items of infrastructure in the country are also likely
to have been protected with mines. For example, this power-line
was mined to prevent it being blown up. After the war, the damaged
line cannot be repaired because no one is entirely sure where
the mines are.
when power pylons appear to have been cleared, access may have
been achieved using a bulldozer - which means that many of the
mines will be left in the berms or may still be in the "clear" area. Several mines were found around this pylon when the real
deminers moved in.
berms by this power line in Namibia were created with a bulldozer
- and so have many mines inside them. Notice the unusual concrete
triangle warning sign. (The clumps of vegetation on the pylon
are actually bird nests.)
may also have been mined by the fighting factions or by bandits.
It is easy to conceal a mine in a road like this. If a road
is not used by others, it should be avoided.
can also be difficult to deploy your deminers and equipment
over roads like this. Once "surfaced" with tar, it
has become tortuous to drive and easy to conceal mines on.
can see that this road has become a footpath.
broken tar road has been abandoned because of mines. Mines may
be laid in the potholes, or the thin tar may be melted, lifted
up and replaced on the top of a mine.
truck detonated a mine with a rear wheel as it crossed a bridge.
There were other mines placed to injure the survivors and make
it difficult to repair the bridge.
train was attacked years ago and the wreckage was mined to prevent
the government reopening the railway. A warning sign has been
chalked on the front of the train.
railway line was turned upside down in order to make it difficult
to repair. Grenades were placed under the track and mines placed
around it. Many mined areas are quite well defined and easy to locate....
This is the edge of a village beside a tarred road. The local people cook using wood, so the trees around a village have usually been cut. In this case, dense undergrowth starts very close to the village and rather suddenly. Villages close to roads were particularly vulnerable to hit&run attacks so they were frequently mined defensively. The mines were placed so that an attacking force that approached on the road, then spread out to attack the village through the bush would run into the minefield. An experienced mined area surveyor would spot this immediately. To others, the general rule is that - if local people avoid an area, you should also avoid it.
can be more difficult to know where mines are in the bush. The
only reason for you to suspect that there are mines here is
because it is close to a reservoir. Mines were placed on all
of the tracks that led to the reservoir to prevent the dam
being blown up or the water polluted. This prevented people
getting water for themselves and their livestock - so the government
forces accidentally made the locals move off their land and
join the displaced people in the towns. The dam was also blown
up anyway, but the mines remain.
wars where one side uses hit&run terror tactics, any place in
the bush may have been mined to catch the attackers or to slow
down the forces chasing them. This area was once pasture and
was mined because insurgents were in the area. The insurgents
left years ago and the mines will remain until funds are found
to pay for their clearance. Meantime the pasture returns to
This field in Cambodia was also randomly mined to deter pursuit, and then abandoned.
Also this jungle area in Cambodia.
In places that are mined randomly to prevent pursuit or to deny the land to others, huge areas have to be cleared in order to find very few mines. Ways of safely reducing the area that must be cleared are needed and various means of detecting the presence of explosives nearby (using animals and machines) are being researched. In the meantime, clearance is increasingly prioritised so that those areas where people are most at risk are cleared first. The resources on abandoned land (wood, bamboo, fruits, etc) often mean that people living in a marginal economy have to go there to make a subsistence living - so many apparently abandoned areas are the sites of civilian accidents and have a high humanitarian priority despite their low "land value".
to Section 3.....