Thousands of lives saved as Herat cleared of landmines

Herat was among the provinces heavily infested by tens of thousands of landmines and unexploded ordnances. (Courtesy photo)
Updated 18 February 2018

Thousands of lives saved as Herat cleared of landmines

KABUL: Clearance of landmines from Herat after 40 years is nearing completion and was hailed by Afghan provincial authorities on Saturday as a remarkable life-saving work and “great news” for the people of the city.
Halo Trust, which has a long history of demining in Afghanistan, announced on Feb. 15 that 14 out of the 16 districts in Herat are safe following the completion of 10-year-long clearance operations by the UK-funded organization.
“This is certainly great news for the people of Herat,” said a spokesman for the governor of Herat.
Talking to Arab News, he said: “The public’s concern has been addressed. We had a ceremony marking the announcement that there is no danger to the lives of people from landmines and unexploded ordinance in those areas.”
The official added: “Thousands of kilograms of (explosive) materials were removed and destroyed. If one kilogram could kill at least one person then the number of lives saved amounts to thousands.”
Abdul Latif Rahimi, a senior operational officer for the Halo Trust, said: “The remaining two remote districts of Gulran and Shindand have not been cleared yet because of poor security and presence of militants in the area.”
Before Halo Trust began its operations in 2008, Herat was among the provinces heavily infested by tens of thousands of landmines and unexploded ordnance including missiles and aircraft bombs — the legacy of 40 years of war — Rahimi said.
“We have cleared some 96 million square meters of area in Herat of 645,117 mines, bombs, rockets and bullets in the past 10 years,” he told Arab News.
Fortunately, given the huge area cleared, the Halo Trust lost none of its employees while unearthing the explosives, he said.
But it lost six of its staff in an abduction incident in the province.
Authorities in Herat said one of the cleared sites is being used to house tens of thousands of Afghan refugees.


Report: Fugitive tech boss was Austrian spy agency informant

Updated 30 October 2020

Report: Fugitive tech boss was Austrian spy agency informant

  • Jan Marsalek faces allegations of fraud and other charges in connection with the company’s sudden bankruptcy earlier this year
  • German federal police issued a wanted poster for Marsalek in August

BERLIN: German media report that a fugitive former top executive of payment company Wirecard was an informant for the Austrian spy agency BVT.
Jan Marsalek, the former chief operating officer of Wirecard, faces allegations of fraud and other charges in connection with the company’s sudden bankruptcy earlier this year.
Munich-based Wirecard filed for protection from creditors in June after executives admitted that 1.9 billion euros ($2.2 billion) listed as being held in trust accounts in the Philippines probably did not exist.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily reported Friday that German federal prosecutors have evidence Marsalek was a source for the BVT agency. The newspaper cited a German government response to Left party lawmaker Fabio De Masi.
German lawmaker Patrick Sensburg, who sits on the parliamentary intelligence oversight committee, told business daily Handelsblatt that Marsalek may have worked for several spy agencies simultaneously. He didn’t elaborate.
German federal police issued a wanted poster for Marsalek in August. Interpol issued a so-called red notice for him on allegations of “violations of the German duty on securities act and the securities trading act, criminal breach of trust (and) especially serious case of fraud.”
As chief operating officer, Marsalek was in charge of all operational business activities, including sales, and is suspected of having inflated the balance sheet total and sales volume of the company, police said.
Former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun has been arrested, along with the company’s former chief financial officer and former head of accounting.
Police allege that Braun and Marsalek incorporated “fictitious proceeds from payment transactions relating to deals with so-called third-party acquirers in order to present the company financially stronger and more attractive to investors and customers.”