Two children killed in landmine explosion in eastern Turkey

Two children were killed in a village in Turkey’s eastern province of Tunceli on Tuesday after stepping on a landmine in a rural area.

Eight-year-old Ayaz Güloğlu and four-year-old Nupelda Güloğlu were transported to a hospital in the neighbouring province of Elazığ, where they died of the injuries they sustained, state-run Anadolu News Agency said.

Turkey’s Kurdish-majority east and southeast have been at the centre of clashes between Kurdish security forces and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants for decades.

The PKK, which has been fighting an armed insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984, is accused by Ankara of placing anti-personnel mines in the region despite pledging to renounce their use.

Turkey in 2003 signed the Ottawa Treaty, pledging to remove the landmine stocks as well as buried landmines until 2014. However, not much progress was achieved by that date in clearing areas from landmines and the country asked for an extension of the deadline to 2022.

As of 2015 there were 839,000 anti-personnel landmines and 164,797 anti-tank mines in Turkey located in 3,174 locations in the east and southeast regions, according to the Initiative for Turkey Without Landmines, a non-governmental organisation working prohibition of the explosives.

The NGO said in 2015 that more than 10,000 people were killed or injured due to landmines.