2012-05-07

Salt Pan in Northern Chile Is Cleared of Anti-Personnel Mines

A Chilean Army sapper works in a minefield in the northern part of the country, where the Government intends to eliminate 180,000 explosives scattered along approximately 980 kilometers of border. (Photo: AFP)

A Chilean Army sapper works in a minefield in the northern part of the country, where the Government intends to eliminate 180,000 explosives scattered along approximately 980 kilometers of border. (Photo: AFP)

AFP

Chilean Defense Minister Andrés Allamand declared the terrain of the Acotán salt pan, in northern Chile, free of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, in another step toward eliminating the 180,000 mines planted in the country during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1990).

Under the Ottawa Convention, an agreement signed by Chile in 1997, the Chilean Armed Forces completed the humanitarian demining of the Acotán salt pan, deep in the Atacama desert and near the border with Bolivia.

After officially certifying the area as free of mines, Allamand, together with Military authorities, toured the area which had been closed to the public for safety reasons up to now.

Chile has made a commitment to eliminating the 180,000 mines planted on both its northern and extreme southern borders in the 1970s, during Pinochet’s dictatorship.

According to Defense Ministry data, around 50,000 mines have been eliminated up to now, 14,100 of which were destroyed in the region of Antofagosta (also in northern Chile).

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