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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 February 2019

Five mine removal staff killed in Yemen

Foreign technicians working for a Saudi-funded project died when a device exploded in Marib province

The team was working for the Masam programme, a humanitarian project to clear mines planted by Houthi rebels. AFP
The team was working for the Masam programme, a humanitarian project to clear mines planted by Houthi rebels. AFP

Five foreign experts clearing mines planted by Houthi rebels in Yemen were killed on Sunday when a device exploded.

The team was working for Masam, a Saudi-funded project, and died near the headquarters of the programme in Marib province, a source at the scene told The National.

A landmine blew up as the technicians were preparing to move hundreds of similar devices cleared from sites in Marib. The munitions were to be taken to a remote area for disposal.

A source at the scene told The National that a mine exploded, starting a chain reaction which set off other devices. Assistant programme manager Johan den Haan, a UK citizen of South African origin, was among the dead, the source said.

“The mines continued going off for more than 30 minutes but the impact of the explosions fortunately didn’t reach the team’s headquarters, where thousands of mines and explosive devices were stored.

"No injuries were reported among other members of the team or civilians,” the source said

Director of the Masam programme, Osama Al Gosaibi, posted his condolences on Twitter and said the project extended its "deepest sympathy to the families of the martyrs".

The Masam project was set up 18 months ago by the King Salman Relief Centre and works in areas that were controlled by Houthi rebels in northern Yemen and the port city of Hodeidah.

The programme has cleared 37,000 mines since it was set up in 2017.

Updated: January 21, 2019 09:57 AM

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