Sri Lanka imports machines to clear mines

September 5, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka has imported equipment to speed up mine clearing in the former war zone in the island’s north, the defence ministry said Saturday. The mine-clearing machines imported from Slovakia would be used to accelerate resettlement of people driven out of the area during the height of fighting, the ministry said in a statement.

Sri Lanka’s army and eight other organisations were involved in removing thousands of mines, but most of the work was done manually, K. Kumarasiri, secretary to the Nation Building Ministry, told AFP.

“Only 10 square metres (about 100 square feet) can be de-mined daily (by one mine clearer) through manual work,” added Major General D.M.D. Alwis, coordinator of the Sri Lanka Humanitarian Demining Project.

“But these machines can clear 5,000 square metres,” he said.

Sri Lankan troops crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam by killing the rebels’ leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran in mid-May, ending a decades-long separatist conflict that had claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The army has said it was sending more troops for mine-clearing operations to speed up the resettlement of nearly

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