Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior (MoI) has opened its first special school to train police officers on defusing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the biggest conflict-related threat to civilians in the country.
“One of the biggest challenges for people and military forces (in Afghanistan) is IEDs,” said the head of the engineering section of the MoI’s IED disposal team, General Mohammahd Anwar Paigham, at the school’s opening ceremony held in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Wednesday.
According to the latest Protection of Civilians report of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the indiscriminate and unlawful use of IEDs by anti-Government elements remains the biggest conflict-related threat to civilians, responsible for 35 per cent of deaths and injuries during the first half of 2013. With 443 civilians killed and 917 injured by IEDs, it was a 34 per cent increase compared to IED-caused casualties recorded during the same period in 2012.
Afghan officials hope that the new school, which aims to train 1,500 police personnel this year, will help alleviate the IED problem. Previously, just 305 police personnel had received training in defusing mines since 2007, according to MoI officials.
In his latest report on Afghanistan to the UN Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the continued use of IEDs by anti-Government elements remains “the biggest threat to civilians” in Afghanistan.
“United Nations tracking of specific incidents of civilian casualties, as well as broader advocacy on such issues as the impact of improvised explosive devices and the clearance of explosive remnants of war, has had a demonstrable impact,” said Mr. Ban, in his report.