Saturday, 22 September

Exploding Landmines in Karabakh Continue to Maim

On October 18th, 11 year-old Arkady Khachatryan was taken from the village of Zaglik to the hospital at Martakert. Fragments from an exploding piece of ordinance had damaged the young boy’s abdomen, left hand and fingers. We had a chance to talk to the boy before he was wheeled into the surgical unit. “I was poking around in some garbage when I found it. I didn’t know what it was. There was a small indentation on it but I couldn’t make it out. I went and got a hammer and holding the thing down with my left hand I struck it with my right. It blew up.” said Arkady, tears rolling down his cheeks.

The doctors said that it was too early to say if any shrapnel had lodged on the boy’s stomach but given the visible wounds they assumed that there might be. From what Arkady described it’s safe to assume that what he found was either a grenade or a land mine. We can’t be sure. The Martakert Police have initiated a criminal investigation into the affair. Similar incidents especially occur in the border regions of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and in those populated areas once under continuous Azeri control during the war. This was the case of Zaglik, which remained under Azeri military control for several months. On the day of the incident we were in the village of Verin Horatagh. The local school Principal, Naira Arstamyan, told us that years ago two students were killed after a shell they had been fooling around with exploded. In the border village of Berdashen 21 individuals have been injured since the cessation of military operations due to mines and fragment shells placed by the enemy in vineyards and fields. 8 of the 21 individuals died due the injuries they suffered. In Karabakh the work of landmine clearing is mostly performed by the English organization “Halo Trust”. Yuri Shahramanyan, who heads the organization’s field unit, informed “Hetq” that ‘Halo Trust” has registered 6 incidents involving ordinance explosions so far this year, resulting in 9 injured and 2 fatalities.

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