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1,300 land mines cleared from areas bordering N. Korea this year

All Headlines 10:51 December 21, 2009

By Sam Kim

SEOUL, Dec. 21 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean military said Monday it has removed some 1,300 land mines this year from the country's rural areas bordering North Korea, a reminder of the tense 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a truce.

In the operations that lasted from April to November, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) mobilized 3,300 personnel to remove mines from a total of 100,000 square meters of land south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), it said in a release. Since starting the operations in 1999, JCS has cleared 65,000 mines.

"It was a rewarding operation as we moved carefully not to disrupt the natural environment of the areas we cleared," Maj. Jeong Heon-min, operation chief, was quoted as saying. Land mines pose a threat to civilians working in remote areas near the DMZ, especially farmers.

JCS said it plans to clear 140,000 square meters of land next year. The areas covered this year included Yeoncheon-gun on the west and Goseong-gun on the east. Both abut the military demarcation line with North Korea.

The Koreas remain theoretically at war with each other after their fratricidal war that killed millions of civilians and soldiers on both sides and implicated foreign powers.

samkim@yna.co.kr
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