Officials in Yemen said landmines planted by al Qaeda militants before they fled the south after being defeated two weeks ago have killed 73 civilians over the past week.
The governor's office in Abyan province's capital of Zinjibar said engineering teams have removed around 3,000 landmines around the city and near the southern town of Jaar, according to the Associated Press. Government troops had captured both towns after a two-month fight to remove al Qaeda militants from land they captured during last year's political unrest.
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CNN reported that tens of thousands of landmines were planted before al Qaeda left the area, and more than 200 experts are now involved in the mine removal operation. Residents in Abyan have also said that the injury toll from the landmines is much higher than that of those killed.
"Al Qaeda had more than a year to plan and plant the land mines, so it will take time. We are also in dire need of modern detecting devices," a senior Defense Ministry official told CNN.
According to the Australian, the governor's office also said Jaar residents found the bodies of 20 and two soldiers killed during last week's fighting. Muqbel Shaddad, a resident of Jaar, said the bodies were found in bushes scattered around the countryside.