Gaddafi forces sow landmines in east Libya

Benghazi, March 31: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces have sown landmines in areas around the city of Ajdabiyah, adding a dangerous new element to the war on the eastern front, human rights and mine experts said on Thursday.

The mines include Brazilian-made anti-personnel mines and Egyptian-made anti-tank mines.

Two minefields were discovered by monitors in the days following last Saturday’s retreat from Ajdabiyah by Gaddafi’s troops and appear to be have been laid during their 10-day occupation of the crossroads town 150 km (90 miles) south of the rebel capital Benghazi.

His forces have since reversed the retreat with a counter-attack and were at the gates of Ajdabiyah once again on Thursday.

The first field was sown around electricity pylons a few yards off the Ajdabiyah-Benghazi road in an area of sand near the town’s Eastern Gate, Peter Bouckaert, a Human Rights Watch monitor in Benghazi, said.

An electrical repair truck hit a mine there on Monday and then another as men tried to pull it out, he said. There were no casualties.

Mine clearers marked out 24 anti-tank mines and 30 to 40 anti-personnel mines, he said, adding that many vehicles and people on foot pass by the area.