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Rights group: Iraq mined mosque

Iraq was heavily mined during war with Iran, and during first Gulf War, says Human Rights Watch.
Iraq was heavily mined during war with Iran, and during first Gulf War, says Human Rights Watch.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraqi forces have placed dozens of landmines at a mosque in the northern part of the country, an anti-landmines group says.

About 150 anti-personnel landmines had been stored inside the Kadir Karam mosque and placed within the grounds before it was abandoned on March 27, Human Rights Watch said.

The mines have since been deactivated, but the rights group accused the Iraqi regime of having violated international humanitarian law

"Antipersonnel mines should be viewed as completely repugnant weapons whose use is beyond the pale, just like weapons of mass destruction," said Steve Goose, executive director of the arms division of Human Rights Watch.

"Iraq's use of these insidious weapons must be condemned. In the long run, they are sure to cause more pain and suffering to Iraqi civilians than to enemy soldiers," he added.

The group says "any use of antipersonnel mines by any armed force is prohibited by customary international humanitarian law since they are inherently indiscriminate weapons. International humanitarian law also prohibits using places of worship in support of the military effort."

Mines Advisory Group, a British de-mining group, was quoted by Human Rights Watch as saying it had gone into the mosque Wednesday and "dismantled more than 150 mines."

Human Rights Watch added Iraqi forces began planting mines before the outbreak of the conflict and have continued laying them in a number of areas, according to information provided by mine clearance organizations and media accounts.

Iraq is a heavily mined country after landmines "were used extensively in the 1991 Gulf War by Iraq and by the United States and other coalition forces. Iraq is also littered with mines from the Iraq-Iran War of the 1980s and decades of internal conflict," the group said.

A BBC cameraman was accidentally killed in northern Iraq Wednesday after standing on a landmine as he climbed out of his car, according to a statement put out by the British Broadcasting Corporation. (Cameraman killed)

Kaveh Golestan, 52, was an Iranian free-lance cameraman working as part of a four-man team filming at Kifri when he mistakenly stepped on the mine.

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