Andy Smith
Mine action specialist

Mined area Indicators – Angola:
Improvised devices on roads



Sheet 11    Improvised devices on roads
(Page 1)

The picture shows the broken surface of a tarred road. The road has recently been mined using a booby trap switch and a boosted anti-tank mine.

Suggested messages:

  • It is easy to conceal devices when the road surface is rutted or broken.
  • Even when devices are visible, you may not see them. If you see them, you may not recognize what they are.
  • Always ask the authorities about the security situation before driving on a road.
  • If a road is overgrown and has not been used recently, do not drive on it.
  • When possible, travel in a convoy of other vehicles escorted by the police or military.
  • Driving fast does not make it less likely that you will detonate a mine.


Sheet 12    Improvised devices on roads
(Page 2)

The red arrows on the picture above point to the clues that were visible in the road. The road has recently been mined using a booby trap switch and a boosted anti-tank mine.

The booby-trap switch is called a “Prank” or “toe-popper” and is only 42mm in diameter (about 1½”). The pin from this switch is in the foreground of the big picture. The switch is inside one of the potholes. It is attached by a length of detonating cord to a block of TNT that is on top of an anti-tank mine. Both the mine and the block of TNT are hidden under the tar towards the center of the road. The bandits who placed this device wanted the vehicle that detonated it to be blown into the air so that it landed on its side. They believed that more of its cargo would be damaged if the explosive went off under a wheel.

Suggested messages:

  •   It is easy to conceal devices when the road surface is rutted or broken.
  •   Even when devices are visible, you may not see them. If you see them, you may not recognize what they are.
  •   Improvised devices can look innocent.
  •   Even when it is known that anti-tank mines were used, they may be laid in a way that makes pedestrians or cyclists vulnerable.

The devices shown are:

A – The “Prank” or “Toe popper” booby-trap switch. It can be set up so that operates by pressure on it, or by taking pressure off it. Detonating cord is threaded through one end of the detonator and taken to the main charge. When the switch is fired, the detonating cord initiates the main charge. The arming pin or clip may be discarded nearby when the device is placed.

The makers of the “Prank” switch intended it to used to:

A – trigger improvised mines

B – for booby trapping

C – for use under railway lines.

B – A PT Mi-Ba-III anti-tank mine with three PMA-2 anti-personnel mines on top of it. The pressure of even a small child would set off a PMA-2 mine and that would initiate the tank mine. Both the anti-tank and the anti-personnel mines have a very small metal content – making this device very difficult to detect with a metal detector. (This example was found using dogs.)

C – A TM-57 anti-tank mine with an R2M2 anti-personnel mine on top. The pressure of even a small child would set off the R2M2 mine and that would initiate the tank mine.

D - The TM-62B anti-tank mine with a block of TNT wrapped in detonating cord on top of it. The device is initiated by a “Prank” switch requiring only 4 or 5 Kg of pressure.


Sheet 13  Improvised devices on roads
(Page 3)


The picture shows three of the anti-personnel mines that may be used in improvised devices on roads in Angola. There are many other kinds of anti-personnel mines that can also be used. The photograph in the middle of the page shows the three mines together, allowing you to see their size relative to each other.

The devices shown are:

A – The MAPS or M411 anti-personnel blast mine that is sometimes confused with the M/969. It is a little bigger (88mm diameter, about 3½”) and contains 5g more explosive. Its large clear plastic arming cap screws in place, so it does not have an arming pin.

B – The M/969 anti-personnel blast mine with a black safety cap held in place with a pin. This mine may be found in other colours.

C – The R2M2 anti-personnel blast mine and the same mine seen from beneath with its booster charge removed.

D – The R2M1 anti-personnel blast mine which is the earlier version of the R2M2. It is usually dark green and its rubber sleeve generally extends to the bottom of the mine.

E – The clear plastic arming cap of a MAPS mine. These may be discarded when the mines are laid.

F – The pin and arming cap from an M/969 mine. These may be discarded when the mines are laid.

G – An R2M2 alongside an R2M1. Both have been damaged by bushfires.

H – The box in which the fuzes of PMA-2 mines are issued. This may be discarded when the mines are armed and laid.

I – A PMA-2 mine with a section cut from it. This shows the way that the plastic plunger “prods” into the tiny detonator when it is pushed down. The detonator is the only metal part of the mine.

J – The arming pin of the R2M2 and R2M1 mine. These may be discarded when the mines are laid.

K – A PMA-2 mine seen from above. The small plastic plunger is often the only part that can be seen above ground.

L – The PMA-2 mine is fitted with a transit-cap that may also be discarded when the fuze is fitted and the mine laid.

M – An R2M2 that has weathered and changed colour. If they are exposed to the sun the plastic may become almost white.

N – The metal content of an R2M2 or R2M1. The mine can be very hard to detect.

Sheet 14    Improvised devices on roads
(Page 4)

The picture shows a few of the booby-trap switches and improvised devices that may be found. The devices shown are mostly made of plastic, but similar metal ones are also used.

Suggested messages:

  • If you find something unusual that appears to have been deliberately concealed, do not touch it.
  • Even if a device seems to old or broken, it may still be dangerous.
  • Some devices are designed to detonate if disturbed.

The devices shown are:

A –  The “Toll” is a tilt sensitive device. It is designed to be used with another device named “Gate”. Gate is a similar box containing a delay timer. Operated by a battery, the delay is set at 34 minutes. Toll causes an immediate detonation if Gate is disturbed before the delay elapses.

B –  The “Sweep spy” is a battery operated device attached to a loop antenna that will trigger an explosive charge when a metal detector passes over it. The “Sweep spy” was designed to be triggered by the “Stick” detectors issued to Cuban forces. The device incorporates a light sensitive eye so that if it is uncovered, it sends a signal to detonate the charge. The “Sweep spy” does not contain explosive. The designers intended it to be placed alongside a large mine with its wires running to a detonator and explosive charge placed to initiate the mine when fired. The loop antennae was designed to be placed directly on top of the mine. The battery life was one year and the battery could not be replaced. Some reports indicate that few “Sweep spy” devices were ever made.

C –  An improvised explosive charge with no case and with detonators randomly inserted.

D – This PMN mine is tied to blocks of TNT with an MUV fuze (initiator) attached. The TNT is used to boost the mine. The extra fuze means that the device can be initiated by pressure on the mine or by pulling a wire attached to the fuze. The wire can be attached to the ground so that the device explodes when it is lifted. The wire can also be tied to an object of value or interest.

E – The “Mango” is a plastic box that can be set to sense the magnetic field emitted by the motor of a diesel-electric train, or the metal of a steam train. The device takes a 9 volt battery and sends a charge to a detonator. When switched to sense a steam train, it will also be triggered by vehicles. When switched to sense a diesel-electric train, it may be triggered by the electro magnetic emissions from a metal detector.

The Mango has a self-destruct feature designed to operate after twelve days. It also has an anti-tilt feature intended to make the device detonate if disturbed.

F – This is reported to be a Soviet issue condiment container. Beside it is an example that has been made into an explosive device. The picture is used to illustrate the way in which innocent things may be converted into explosive devices.

G – Two sticks of TNT tied together with an MUV fuze and detonator fitted. A tripwire can be attached to the fuze. A few ball bearings have been taped between the TNT.

H – A  “Puff” combination switch operated by tripwire that can be used to initiate detonation cord and a distant device.

I – A clockwork 24hr delay timer.

J – The “Reaper” is a pressure release device used beneath heavy objects such as anti-tank mines so that they detonate if they are lifted.  The recommended weight to place on top is not less than 8.5kg. The “Reaper” contains its own detonator and booster. Users must fill the case with PE before use.

K – A TM-57 tank mine turned on its side with an MUV fuze attached so that it can be initiated by pulling a tripwire.


Mined area
warning signs


Areas without




Roads in
rural areas



Improvised devices
on roads


Surveyor's stick


Fighter plane


grazing land















Angola bush









bush 2







How mines


Other common
AP mines


Other common


Other common