Santos celebrates Colombia’s 1st landmine free municipality

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos celebrated Colombia’s first landmine free town, said local media Tuesday.

Santos attended a ceremony in the central Colombian town of San Carlos in Colombia’s Antioquia department to celebrate the town’s landmine free status.

The president said, “this is a great achievement, thanks to the efforts of the Armed Forces, to clean this town affected by the violence and help it recover. This effort would have been impossible without the help and solidarity of the community of San Carlos.”

San Carlos Mayor Maria Patricia Giraldo said more than 700 explosives were destroyed in the landmine clean up operation.

According to reports, 18 deaths and 154 serious injuries have occurred due to landmines in San Carlos since 1990.

Landmines have been used extensively in the on going conflict between the government and Colombian guerrilla groups such as the FARC and the ELN. Colombia’s Armed Forces agreed to stop using landmines in 1997, but guerrilla groups continue to use them. Last year local media reported the FARC were training drug trafficking gangs in the use of landmines. The gangs reportedly use landmines to protect coca fields.

Colombia had the second highest amount on landmine victims in the world in 2010.

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