Mine clearance teams in Afghanistan report finding literally dozens of types of landmines, mainly from the ex-USSR, but also from Belgium, Italy, US and the UK. The most infamous mine used during the Soviet Union's occupation period was the so-called 'butterfly' mine. Helicopter crews dropped untold numbers (figures range into the millions) of the small mines from the air. They were designed to flutter to the ground without exploding, and to thousands of children they resembled butterflys or toys. But one wing of the mine was filled with liquid explosive, designed to ignite and explode on contact, severing hands.
Russian "butterfly" mines
Couldn't find anyn pictures on the net of the little bomblets that the Russians were dropping back in the 80s in afghanistan that looked like little pinkish dolls. They had just enough explosive inside to take off a hand. that's the way these "butterflys" were supposed to work - just blow off a hand - -
Here is part of a report from the New York Times, 1987.
The best studies of Afghanistan's torment were published jointly last December and a year earlier by two private human rights organizations in New York, Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch. One practice they described is the use of ''toy bombs'' -explosive devices disguised as toy trucks, dolls and other objects. When children pick them up, they explode, blowing off hands, maiming, blinding the victims.
''The practice of using toys to kill is such an outrageous concept that many have refused to accept it as true,'' the 1986 report of the two watch committees said. ''Yet Helsinki Watch has received scores of testimonies about such weapons, from credible witnesses who often have no notion of the significance of what they were reporting.''
|Dawat Independent Media Center (DIMC)|
Steel Rain, Cluster Bombs, and Mines…Indiscriminate and Deadly -By: Bruce G. Richardson|
Friday, 03.18.2011, 11:38pm (GMT1)
Steel Rain, Cluster Bombs, and Mines…Indiscriminate and Deadly
By: Bruce G. Richardson
Every war must end. But residual or leftover unexploded ordnance can be a war’s legacy, particularly when small and unstable munitions lay around areas where civilians rebuild their lives following a cessation of hostilities.
More than thirty countries have ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the threshold for the Convention to enter into force…and over one-hundred additional countries have signed it since 2008. Holdouts include Russia, Israel and the United States. All three have deployed cluster munitions during the past decade, Russia during the conflict in Georgia in 2008, Israel during its war against Hezbollah in 2006, and the United States during initial and ongoing phases in the wars both in Afghanistan and Iraq.
During the years 2001 and 2002, the United States dropped 1,210 (CBU) cluster-bomb-units which delivered 244,000 sub-munitions or “bomblets” on Afghanistan. On New Year’s Day, 2002, the U.N. reported that U.S. planes dropped cluster munitions on103 cities of Afghanistan and possibly another 25 more. The areas around Heart, Shomali Plain and Tora Bora were particularly hard hit, 600 were dropped in Shomali alone. So terrifying are these weapons that Iraqi troops called the exploding cluster-bombs, “steel rain.” Such cluster munitions can either be dropped from aircraft or fired from inside artillery shells. The ‘parent’ bomb breaks apart as it nears the target area, spewing forth sub-munitions (bomblets). The widely used CBU-87 1,000 pound cluster-bomb leaves a “footprint” encompassing 458 meters. The footprint is measured by the area affected. Each bomblet 13LU-107 injures or kills people within a 152 meter radius. The bomblets drift down to earth in small parachutes. Though most explode on impact, many do not. The unexploded or failure rate is at 22%. (See: www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/dumb/cluster.htm).
On October 10, 2001, U.S. B-52s and B1 bombers began dropping deadly 1,000 pound CBU-87 and CBU-103 cluster fragmentation bombs upon “soft targets”, vehicles and people in Afghanistan. The British Halo Trust now estimates on the basis of research that 20% of the bomblets failed to explode, meaning that 48,884 yellow-colored deadly sub-munitions now litter villages, paths and fields of Afghanistan.
According to Jane’s International, internationally-acknowledged military weapons experts: one of the most savage features is their 6/mm diamond patterned steel jacket. When the bomb explodes, the steel splits, ejecting hundreds of high velocity steel fragments travelling at speeds equivalent to high-power rifle bullets. They kill and injure people from well over 100 meters from the point of detonation. In a critical report BBC characterized cluster munitions as “some of the most savage weapons of modern warfare.” A newly developed warhead (CBU-107) consists of 3,000 small steel flechettes or darts, producing what is described as a “hurricane of metal” within a given target area 200 meters across. In yet another lethal system deployed in Afghanistan is the U.S. Army’s Multiple Rocket System which fires a missile that contains 644 M77 grenades, a single salvo involves 3 missiles firing their complement of 12 rockets, which saturate an area with 23,184 deadly grenades. (See: cursor.org/stories/steelrain.html).
During the Soviet/Afghan War, the Soviet PFM-1 anti-personnel mine was widely scattered about Afghanistan. Known as the “Butterfly or Green Parrot” due to wing-like appendages which served to arm the scatter the mine, however the failure rate of impact-detonation was extraordinarily high, likely deliberate, the result of which was to litter the countryside with extremely sensitive-ordnance that need only be slightly disturbed to detonate.
The PFM-1 was scattered over mountain trails, caravan routes and fields. In the countryside Soviet aircraft and ground troops distributed anti-personnel mines in inhabited areas used for grazing, cultivation and other agricultural activities, and along roads. After sweeps through villages the troops placed mines in food storage facilities, Mosques, under furniture, in fruit trees, and in fields. Even more clearly aimed at the civilian population, especially children, were mines disguised as every-day objects such as toy trucks, watches, pens and knives (See: The Great Game Revisited, Edited by Roseanne Klass, 1987). Many of these deadly devices remain scattered about the country.
The mines were painted in two camouflaged colors: green for vegetated areas and tan for desert regions. For the Soviets, bombing civilians was clearly intentional. Bombing was a key part of pacification. Villagers who agreed to collaborate were spared bombing (See: Afghanistan, Ending the Reign of Soviet Terror, Bruce G. Richardson, 1996-98).
To this day, hundreds-of-thousands of unexploded Soviet era “Butterfly” mines litter the Afghan countryside, where detonation and resultant loss of limbs and or sight awaits a curious, poverty-stricken child who thinks he or she may have found a toy and or alternatively an item that may be redeemed for money.
The Americans’ promiscuous- use of cluster munitions combined with a high rate of failure, has resulted in the saturation of the country with additional unexploded ordnance. Due to failure to detonate, the presence of unexploded ordnance is extraordinarily high when combined with Soviet-era totals. Some have reasoned that mines in Afghanistan are like grains of sand…in that they are everywhere…lying-dormant, deadly silent, but poised, waiting to blow-off hands and feet of unsuspecting children, maiming or killing farmers engaged in plowing their fields and or harvesting their crops, and everyday itinerants hiking the multiplicity of mountain trails. Travel to other parts of Afghanistan remains a perilous undertaking.
Today, it is widely accepted among scientists, doctors and aid workers that war is to blame for a myriad of health-issues. The presence of so much expended and unexpended weaponry, waste, rubble, and massive burn-pits have left a toxic legacy that is poisoning the air, the water, and the soil. Add unexploded “ticking time bombs” and highly controversial armaments that the U.S. has only hinted at using in this war…such as depleted uranium, designed to penetrate tank armor, and white phosphorous, a chemical banned under international covenant from use in inhabited areas. And the result is a radioactive and chemically charred wasteland, accelerating the rise in maimed children, and mutated and stillborn babies. In addition, the average Afghan faces daily NATO bombing throughout the region, occasional suicide attack, hunger, unemployment, pervasive and unabated corruption, rising food and fuel prices, and U.S. installed and supported criminal war lords once again in positions of power.
The litany of horrors is gut-wrenching: children missing limbs, life-threatening burns, eyeless, spinal damage, post traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD), riddled with radiation-induced cancerous tumors, cardiac defects, brain trauma, radiation-poisoning levels 300-times accepted norms, and other catastrophic illnesses, this is the legacy of horror bequeathed to the Afghan people by the world’s superpowers: i.e., Russia and the United States, with their sanctimonious, cold, and oft-stated quasi-noble exhortations regarding the eradication of terrorism proffered as justification for war of aggression; the supreme war crime under international covenant, statute and convention to which they are signatories.
Countries that have in a gesture of humanitarianism ratified the ban on cluster munitions must rally together and pressure the U.S., Russia, and Israel to also ratify the treaty. Would the U.S., Russia and Israel continue to obfuscate the issue, and desist from ratification, signatory countries should then collaborate and deny the intransigents basing rights, re-supply depots and facilities, and military over-flight accommodation from which to wage war on the people of Afghanistan.