By Vafa Ismayilova
The Azerbaijani Mine Action Agency has found and defused 8,972 anti-personnel and anti-tank mines and 6,569 pieces of unexploded ordnance since its search operations from September 27, 2020, the agency reported on its website.
The operations were held in Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Zangilan, Gubadli, Tartar regions and Shusha city.
"Demining continues at the sections where the Barda-Aghdam, Fuzuli-Zangilan-Agband railway lines, the Fuzuli-Shusha, Sugovushan-Talish-Tapgaragoyunlu highways will pass. Profile work is being also carried out on the territory where high-voltage power lines will be installed in the direction of Fuzuli - Shusha, Aghdam region, Tartar region's Sugovushan village, and on sowing plots in Gubadli, Aghdam and Zangilan regions,” the agency added.
As part of the search operations that started since late September, 1,507 hectares of lands was examined.
The agency reminded that the liberated territories are full of mines, unexploded ordnance, explosive devices and explosives left over from the war. For security reasons, citizens are not allowed to enter these areas without special permission.
Armenia has refused to give maps of the mines it planed during the 30 years of occupation of Azerbaijani lands.
On February 11, the Emergencies Ministry warned citizens against visiting the liberated territories without permission and urged the population to strictly follow the relevant safety rules until the demining operations end.
Azerbaijani law-enforcers detained six civilians for travelling to the newly-liberated Khojavend and Fuzuli districts without permission amid frequent mine explosions in these areas, the Interior Ministry told local media on February 10. All six are residents of Aghjabadi district.
Azerbaijan's Prosecutor-General's Office said on February 9 that 14 citizens - of them nine civilians - died in mine explosions in the newly-liberated territories since the signing of the Karabakh peace deal on November 10. The number of injured in these incidents is 52 so far.
Earlier, the government agencies warned the citizens against visiting these lands due to the frequency of mine explosions.
The passage of civilians to the liberated Azerbaijani territories without relevant permission on the roads bypassing checkpoints poses a threat to their life and health, the Interior Ministry said.
The ministry urged citizens not to endanger their lives by visiting the liberated lands.
President Ilham Aliyev on 4 February also warned citizens against visiting the newly-liberated lands. He said that mine clearance was the first stage in the process to return Azerbaijani IDPs to their homes, adding that the process will take some time.
Azerbaijan liberated around 300 villages, city centres, settlements and historic Shusha city in the war that lasted from September 27 and November 10. Other Armenian-occupied districts - Kalbajar, Aghdam and Lachin - returned to Azerbaijan's control after the singing of the Russian-brokered Karabakh peace deal on November 10.