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US sending ordnance disposal experts to Serbia, Bosnia after floods

The U.S. is sending civilian explosive ordnance disposal experts to Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to help survey areas where landmines may have been moved or uncovered by recent flooding, the State Department announced Sunday.

The Quick Reaction Force team from the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement is to arrive Monday to work with Mine Action centers in both countries “to survey landmine-contaminated areas” affected by the flooding, according to a State Department news release.

An estimated 120,000 landmines remain from the Bosnian war, and the recent flooding and resulting landslides swept away minefield warning signs and dislodged buried mines, according to local officials. Officials have warned that the mines could be carried downstream to other countries in the region.

Local demining companies and the Serbian and Bosnian military demining units “are very well versed in regular demining operations, but they will be facing clearance operations in unfamiliar circumstances — assessing large areas, clearing mines from landslides, and conducting underwater demining,” the release said.

Last week, the Defense Department announced it was providing relief items to Bosnia-Herzegovina, including water purification units, cots and sleeping bags, as well as generators and fuel.

news@stripes.com

 

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