ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces continued clearing the town of Bashiqa, southwest of the Kurdistan Region, from mines and explosives planted by the Islamic State (IS).
Since the liberation of Bashiqa, northeastern Mosul, by the Kurdish forces on Nov. 7, Peshmerga engineering teams, the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA), and some international volunteers started cleaning the town and its surrounding areas from IS-planted mines.
In an attempt to defend themselves in the face of the Peshmerga offensive, IS insurgents planted explosives and mines in a large swath of land in Bashiqa and the surrounding areas.
Muhammed Ahmed, head of the IKMAA, told Kurdistan24 on Tuesday there were several mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) planted in the area.
Ahmed added it was IKMAA’s priority to clean all the areas from the mines and allow the people of the town to return home.
“This is the policy of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the liberated areas,” Ahmed said. “Therefore, we will bring two more teams to expedite the process of removing all the mines IS had planted.”
IKMAA is one of the main agencies led by the KRG responsible for mine clearing affairs in the Region.
Since mid-2014, five of its staff have fallen while clearing mines.
Ghanun Younis, head of the Bashiqa Municipality, said people cannot be allowed to return until these areas were all cleared from mines.
Younis added IS had planted mines in a majority of the town’s strategic projects including water and electricity which makes it difficult to restore services for people if they return before the area is cleared from IEDs.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany