Landmines? Why would these miniscule explosives qualify as weapons of mass destruction? Many people would not classify them under WMD, but the definition of WMD is "a weapon that kills or injures civilian as well as military personnel."
Landmines indiscriminately kill civilians and military personnel, qualifying it in a sense as a weapon of mass destruction. There are over 100 million active landmines deployed worldwide. In Cambodia, more than 40,000 citizens have undergone amputations as a result of mine accidents since 1979. That equates to an average of 40 victims a week for twenty years.
Since 1975, landmines have killed or maimed more than one million people worldwide. Government officials have recognized the destructive power of landmines. Former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance has called landmines "like weapons of mass destruction, in slow motion."
While more than 350 variations of landmines are in existence, the two main types of landmines are:
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APM's can kill or simply disable their victims. They can be activated by pressure, a tripwire, or remote detonation. The three basic categories of anti-personnel mines are: blast, bounding, and fragmentation.
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Anti-tank mines were developed during World War I shortly after the invention of the armored tank. These mines are similar to Anti-Personnel Mines (APM's), but are much larger in size. Anti-tank mines are pressure activated but usually do not respond to the weight of an average person. Typical anti-tank mines require 348 pounds (158 kg) in order to detonate.
There are many international organizations dedicated to the removal of landmines, powered by celebrities such as the late Princess Diana. For more information on the worldwide humanitarian de-mining effort, check out the following sites: