+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Bangladesh, Landmine Monitor Report 2006


Key developments since May 2005: Bangladesh served as co-chair of the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction from December 2004 to December 2005. No mine casualties were reported in Bangladesh in 2005 and January-May 2006; there were eight UXO-related casualties in 2005. Between 1999 and 2005, 163 people were killed and 1,281 were injured by improvised explosive devices, according to initial survey results.

Mine Ban Policy

The People’s Republic of Bangladesh signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 7 May 1998, ratified it on 6 September 2000, and became a State Party on 1 March 2001.

In August 2001, Bangladesh established a national committee to oversee implementation of the treaty.[1] Bangladesh reported in April 2003 that domestic legislation to implement the Mine Ban Treaty was in its “final stage of preparation.”[2] However, in March 2006 Bangladesh simply reported, “Necessary implementation measures are in progress.”[3]

Bangladesh submitted its fifth Article 7 transparency report on 24 March 2006, covering the period from 1 March 2005 to 28 February 2006.[4]

Bangladesh served as co-chair of the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction from December 2004 to December 2005. It participated actively in the Sixth Meeting of States Parties in Zagreb, Croatia in November-December 2005, making statements during the sessions on universalization, stockpile destruction, mine clearance, victim assistance and implementation support.[5] It also attended the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in June 2005 and May 2006, though it made no statements during the May meetings.

Bangladesh is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II on landmines, but did not attend the Seventh Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in November 2005, and did not submit its annual report required by Article 13.

Production, Transfer and Use

Bangladesh has stated that it has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines.[6] Bangladeshi Army spokespeople have repeatedly said to Landmine Monitor, including in November 2005, that Bangladesh has never used mines inside the country or along its borders.[7]

Several groups identifying with communist or Islamist ideologies have carried out attacks using explosive devices. On 17 August 2005, Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, a recently banned Islamist militant group, took part in countrywide bombings.[8] These groups have used time-detonated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide methods for their operations; there have been no known reports of use of victim-activated devices functioning as antipersonnel mines.[9]

Stockpiling and Destruction

On 28 February 2005, Bangladesh completed destruction of its stockpile of 189,227 antipersonnel landmines, just ahead of its 1 March 2005 treaty-mandated deadline.[10] The mines destroyed included: NDP-2 (Pakistan) 22,145; M-14 (USA/India) 3,100; M-16 (T6) Fuze M605 (USA) 5,046; Electric M18A1 (Iran) 348; PMA-3 (Former Yugoslavia) 106,221; T-69 (China) 52,367.[11]

Discovery of old arms caches, including antipersonnel mines, are periodically reported. In November 2004, in Tangil district, northern Bangladesh, a “huge quantity of explosives dating back to the 1971 war of independence” was found; it included live antipersonnel mines.[12]

The Bangladeshi border security forces have recovered antipersonnel and antivehicle mines from hideouts of foreign rebel groups in the Naikongchari area of Bandarban district in the Chittagong Hill Tracts along the Burmese border. In March 2006, Bangladesh Army and border security forces recovered 48 antipersonnel mines. A photograph of this seizure published in a Chittagong newspaper showed 11 Burmese-made MM1 mines and 21 Burmese-made MM2 mines among other arms seized.[13] According to a variety of media reports, between February 2004 and July 2005, Bangladesh Army and border security forces recovered 33 antipersonnel mines and 36 antivehicle mines from the Naikongchari area of Chittagong Hill Tracts.[14] Between August 2005 and February 2006, security forces reportedly recovered on several occasions materials for the manufacture of explosive devices in Bandarban district of Chittagong Hill Tracts.[15]

States Parties have agreed that newly discovered stocks of antipersonnel mines should be reported and destroyed as soon as possible. None of the recovered mines listed above have appeared in Bangladesh’s Article 7 reports.

Mines Retained for Research and Training

Bangladesh has retained 14,999 antipersonnel mines for training and research purposes under Article 3 of the Mine Ban Treaty.[16] This is the fourth highest number among States Parties, and has drawn expressions of concern from the ICBL and some States Parties. Bangladesh has described it as the “minimum possible number.”[17] The number of retained mines has decreased by only one mine since Bangladesh first reported in 2002, indicating that mines are not being consumed (exploded) during training or research activities.[18]

It should be noted that the total includes 2,499 M-18A1 Claymore-type directional fragmentation mines that are not prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty if used only in command-detonated mode. In connection with this, at the Sixth Meeting of States Parties, an army official told Landmine Monitor that in the future Bangladesh would exclude the M-18A1 mines from its list of retained mines.[19] However, they remained on the list in the Article 7 report submitted in March 2006.

In its March 2006 Article 7 report, Bangladesh did not utilize the new expanded Form D for reporting on retained mines that States Parties agreed to at the Sixth Meeting of States Parties. The new form is intended to ensure that States Parties are transparent about the precise intended purposes, actual uses and future plans for use of retained mines.

In May 2005, a senior Ministry of Defence official told Landmine Monitor that the high number of mines was required because Bangladeshi peacekeeping missions work in mine-affected areas.[20] At the June 2005 intersessional meetings, Bangladesh stated that it has 17 engineering units requiring a total of 11,900 antipersonnel mines,[21] and that the other mines are needed to train army officers in four different institutions.[22] Bangladesh noted that it has kept the mines “to train its soldiers to defuse or destroy any potential application of mines and not for mine deployment purposes.” The number retained “would be enough for her to sustain mine awareness training, clearance if required and destruction training programs in the future. The testing of mine clearance equipment for example may also require the use of anti-personnel mines.” Bangladesh also said that “while doing Peacekeeping Operations the Peacekeepers frequently handle anti-personnel mines for detection and demolition. Therefore training on antipersonnel mine handling including breaching detection and destruction is a necessity.”[23]

Landmine and ERW Problem

Bangladesh is affected by explosive remnants of war (ERW),[24] and is suspected of being affected by landmines. Unexploded ordnance (UXO) and abandoned arms caches from World War II and the liberation war of 1971 are found in some parts of Bangladesh.[25] In 2005 and 2006, they were the only source of known casualties.

In its Article 7 reports, the government has claimed that there are no known or suspected mined areas in Bangladesh.[26] But it is believed that landmines can be found on the 208-kilometer border with Burma (Myanmar) in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.[27] The Bangladeshi Army, commenting in 2005 on Landmine Monitor findings, said it had also “learned that mines were laid by the Na Sa Ka [Burmese border security forces] but they [the Na Sa Ka] denied the existence of any landmines along the border.”[28]

Mine-affected areas are reportedly located in Ukhia and Ramu, subdistricts of Cox’s Bazar, and in Naikongchari, Alikadam and Thansi subdistricts of Bandarban, particularly in forests. Many inhabitants in these areas depend on resources found in the forests for their subsistence. During field visits and interviews between 1999 and 2006, Landmine Monitor found mine survivors in Ukhia, Ramu, Naikongchari, Alikadam and Thansi subdistricts. People living in Ukhia and Naikongchari subdistricts are more affected than the other three subdistricts.[29]

Mine Action Program

Bangladesh has no formal civilian mine action program. The Bangladeshi Army has several battalions with mine clearance capabilities, but declines to give details of their size, resources or activities. Paramilitary border security forces have conducted mine clearance along the border with Burma in the past.[30]

It is not known whether Bangladeshi authorities collect mine-related information. In 2001, Landmine Monitor reported that Bangladesh had asked the Burmese authorities to survey the minefields on their common border, but no action has been reported since then.[31] No further information has been reported on the locations or types of mines encountered.

Although mine/UXO clearance operations in Bangladesh are limited, or unreported, Bangladesh has continued to support mine clearance in other countries. Bangladesh Army battalions seconded to UN peacekeeping missions possess mine clearing capability. At the First Review Conference in November-December 2004, Bangladesh stated that it “has remained actively involved in demining and mine-clearance activities in Asia and Africa including in UN peacekeeping missions.”[32]

The Office of Inter-Services Public Relations in the Ministry of Defence reported that as of January 2006, a total of 10,614 Bangladeshi soldiers were serving overseas in 11 UN peacekeeping missions. It said they included engineers undertaking mine clearance in some countries, but declined to give further details.[33]

In 2005-2006, the Bangladeshi Army also had 243 personnel working in Kuwait clearing landmines and ordnance from the 1991 Iraqi invasion.[34] The ambassador of Bangladesh to Kuwait, Nazrul Islam Khan, stated that 52 Bangladeshi soldiers had been killed clearing mines in Kuwait.[35]

Mine risk education (MRE) is not officially undertaken in Bangladesh. The last time a MRE training of trainers course was conducted was in June 2004.[36]

Landmine/UXO Casualties

In 2005, no new landmine casualties were reported. There were eight UXO-related casualties: three people were killed (including one child) and five injured. The last reported mine casualties were in 2001.

In May 2005, one man was injured by UXO while digging in a residential area of Teknaf town.[37] On 17 July, two men and a boy were killed, and four men were injured while tampering with UXO in order to recover scrap metal in Hat Hazari north of Chittagong city, near a Bangladeshi Army firing range.[38] It is likely that some mine/UXO incidents have not been reported.

No new mine/UXO casualties were reported in Bangladesh from January to May 2006. In Kuwait, at least three Bangladeshis were involved in mine incidents, including one deminer killed and two civilians injured. On 12 February 2006, a Bangladeshi deminer was killed by an antivehicle mine during demining in the Umm al-Qawati area of northwest Kuwait.[39] On 30 April, a Bangladeshi was injured by a landmine near Jahra industrial area.[40] In May, another Bangladeshi was injured by a mine while herding cattle in Wafra.[41]

The total number of landmine casualties in Bangladesh is not known. Between 1993 and 2001, at least 64 people were killed and 131 injured in reported landmine incidents.[42] The Bangladesh Freedom Fighters’ Welfare Trust identified 148 people who lost limbs in antipersonnel mine incidents during the 1971 independence war.[43] Casualties have also been reported as a result of UXO dating from World War II and the 1971 war.

Nonviolence International-Bangladesh conducted a survey on incidents involving IEDs; the survey was ongoing in 2006. The initial report found that 163 people were killed and 1,281 injured by IEDs from March 1999 to December 2005.[44]

Survivor Assistance, Disability Policy and Practice

The government acknowledges that there are mine survivors in Bangladesh.[45] However, assistance to mine survivors remains scarce and is not part of national policy or humanitarian programs.

The survey conducted by Nonviolence International-Bangladesh found that 10 families with IED casualties had each received 50,000 Bangladeshi Taka (about US$770) from the government since 1999, and that another six survivors had received treatment from local NGOs.[46]

There are four main hospitals near the mine-affected areas. Military mine casualties receive assistance at military hospitals and facilities. The only hospital with specialized facilities, including a prosthetic workshop, is Memorial Christian Hospital, which distributes prostheses free of charge, including at medical camps held every year in different parts of the country, mainly in remote areas (Cox’s Bazar in 2004, Ukhia in 2005 and Natore in February 2006). One mine survivor received a free prosthesis in Ukhia in January 2005.[47]

During Landmine Monitor field research in the mine-affected area of Naikongchari, a mine survivor was found with a broken prosthesis; the survivor was unaware that free prosthetic replacement was available at Memorial Christian Hospital.[48] Other centers which have assisted mine survivors in previous years include Hope Foundation, Jaipur Foot Centre, Bangladesh Rehabilitation Center for Trauma Victims and Handicap International-Bangladesh. In early March 2006, the Jaipur Foot Centre together with Hope Foundation distributed six artificial legs.[49]

Bangladesh has legislation to protect the rights of people with disabilities, including mine survivors; it focuses on prevention of the causes of disability. The responsible government agencies are the Ministry of Social Welfare, the Department of Social Services, and the National Foundation for the Development of the Disabled. In 2004, a task force comprising government officials and NGOs adopted an action plan for the disabled, but the cabinet had not approved the plan in 2005. Several private initiatives exist for medical and vocational rehabilitation, as well as employment of people with disabilities, including mine survivors.[50]

[1] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 97. It is not clear if the national committee meets regularly.
[2] Article 7 Report, Form A, 29 April 2003.
[3] Article 7 Report, Form A, 24 March 2006. In May 2005, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said, “It has been sent for Bengali translation. Last year we gave priority to the destruction of stockpiled mines. Now we will work for national legislation.” Telephone interview with Ismat Jahan, Director General, UN Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka, 28 May 2005.
[4] Previous reports were submitted on 28 August 2002, 29 April 2003, 28 April 2004 and 29 March 2005.
[5] Among other things, Bangladesh’s statements said that it does not have any mined areas under its jurisdiction or control, that it was perplexed by the ICBL’s report that mines have been seized from foreign rebels in Bangladesh, and that there should be an expansion of the Sponsorship Program and of the staff of the Implementation Support Unit (Notes by Landmine Monitor/HRW).
[6] Statement by Bangladesh, Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 17 September 2002.
[7] Interview with Lt. Col. Firoz Ahmed, Army Headquarters, General Staff Branch, Military Operation Directorate, during the Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Zagreb, 29 November 2005. In 2004, a military official said, “We never used mines inside the country or on our common borders with Myanmar and India. We never supplied, traded or developed this technology.” Interview with Lt. Col. Mamun Ur Rashid, GS0-1, GS Brigade, Army Headquarters, Dhaka, 25 January 2004.
[8] See for example, “PM returning home cutting short her China visit: Intelligence agencies fail to inform govt. about bombing,” Bangladesh Observer, 19 August 2005; “Militants diaries describe bomb techniques,” Daily Star, 22 August 2005; “They go free too easily,” Daily Star, 24 August 2005.
[9] See for example, “They go free too easily,” Daily Star, 24 August 2005; “Hunt on for Shaikh Abdur Rahaman and Bangla Bhai,” Daily Independent, 27 August 2005.
[10] The destruction took place over a period of 119 days, starting 2 November 2004, with about 1,590 mines destroyed daily. The Bangladeshi Armed Forces carried out the stockpile destruction at its Central Ammunition Depot in Sripur, Gazipur district, using both electric and non-electric methods of destruction. The destruction was carried out with financial support from the government of Canada. See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 156.
[11] For more information, see Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 157. NDP-2 is not common nomenclature. This is likely Pakistan’s P2 Mk 2 mine.
[12] “Workers uncover cache of independence war explosives in Bangladesh,” Agence France-Presse (Dhaka), 6 November 2004; “Naikongchari is the main spot in Bandarban,” Daily Star, 11 May 2005.
[13] “Huge Ammunitions, explosives and arms are recovered from Bandarban,” Purbakum, 5 March 2006. The same photograph was published in the daily Ajker Deshbidesh of Cox’s Bazar. Stories about the seizure, without the photograph, appeared in national newspapers: “Rocket shell, ammo found in Bandarban,” Daily Star, 13 March 2006; “Huge arms, ammunition recovered in Bandarban,” Daily Independent, 5 March 2006. The articles identified 27 of the mines as US-made Claymores, however, the photograph showed Burmese mines. The Burmese MM1 is patterned after the Chinese Type 59 stake-mounted fragmentation mine; the MM2 is similar to the Chinese Type 58 blast mine.
[14] See for example, “Antipersonnel mines, rocket shell seized at Bandarban,” Daily Star, 24 July 2005; “Naikongchari is the main spot in Bandarban, 183 heavy sophisticated arms recovered in a year,” Daily Star, 11 May 2005; “Heavy arms cache from CHT forest,” Daily Star, 24 November 2004.
[15] See for example, “Terror attack across the country,” Daily Independent, 18 August 2005; “Ex Shibir man Sunny an explosive expert,” The New Age, 15 December 2005; “Ammo meant for V-day attacks seized,” The New Age, 15 January 2005.
[16] Article 7 Report, Form D, 24 March 2006.
[17] Presentation by Bangladesh, Standing Committee Meeting on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 15 June 2005.
[18] Article 7, Form D, in 2005 listed 14,999; previous Article 7 reports in 2004, 2003 and 2002 listed 15,000. The mine which disappeared from the list was an Iranian M-18A1 Claymore.
[19] Interview with Lt. Col. Firoz Ahmed, Zagreb, 1 December 2005.
[20] Interview with Lt. Col. Mohammad Nazrul Islam, Director, Office of Inter-Services Public Relations, Ministry of Defence, Dhaka, 31 May 2005. In its March 2005 Article 7 report, Bangladesh also said that the army requires the mines to assist engineering contingents to prepare for UN peacekeeping missions. Article 7 Report, Form D, 29 March 2005.
[21] “Bangladesh and APM Convention,” paper circulated by Bangladesh at Standing Committee meetings, 13-17 June 2005. The engineering units need mines for “minefield breaching training” and “training on neutralization and destruction techniques.”
[22] Presentation by Bangladesh, Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 17 June 2005. The four institutions are: School of Infantry and Tactics; Engineer Center and School of Military Engineering; Ordnance Center and School; Central Ordnance Depot.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Under Protocol V to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, explosive remnants of war are defined as unexploded ordnance and abandoned explosive ordnance. Mines are explicitly excluded from the definition.
[25] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 158.
[26] Article 7 Report, Form C, 24 March 2006.
[27] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 434.
[28] Interview with Lt. Col. Mohammad Nazrul Islam, Ministry of Defence, Dhaka, 31 May 2005.
[29] Landmine Monitor visited and interviewed survivors’ families, survivors and community leaders in December 1999, December 2000, December 2001, January and December 2002, December 2004, March and December 2005, and January 2006.
[30] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 159.
[31] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 435.
[32] Statement by Maj. Gen. Syeed Ahmed, High Commissioner to Kenya, First Review Conference, Nairobi, 2 December 2004.
[33] Telephone interview with Lt. Col. Mohammad Nazrul Islam, Ministry of Defence, Dhaka, 8 March 2006.
[34] Telephone interview with Lt. Col. Mohammad Nazrul Islam, Ministry of Defence, Dhaka, 8 March 2006.
[35] Nawara Fattahova, “Bangladesh delegation in town to promote investments,” Kuwaittimes.net, www.kuwaittimes.net, accessed 30 May 2006.
[36] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, pp. 159-160.
[37] Ibid, p. 160.
[38] “3 killed, 4 injured in mortar shell blast in Ctg,” Daily Independent (Chittagong), 17 July 2005; “3 killed in Ctg cylinder blast,” Bangladesh Observer (Chittagong), 17 July 2005.
[39] “Death of a deminer in Umm al-Qawati,” al-Qabes (Kuwait City), 13 February 2006.
[40] “Bangladeshi injured in Jahra landmine blast,” Kuwait Times, 1 May 2006.
[41] “Landmine dating to Iraq invasion injures shepherd in Wafra,” Kuwait Times, 10 May 2006.
[42] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p.165.
[43] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 160.
[44] Nonviolence International-Bangladesh, “Survey of IED Casualties,” Bangladesh, (undated).
[45] “Bangladesh and the APM Convention,” Standing Committee meetings, Geneva, 13-17 June 2005.
[46] Nonviolence International-Bangladesh, “Survey of IED Casualties,” Bangladesh, (undated). Average exchange rate for 2005: US$1 = BDT64.64828. Landmine Monitor estimate based on www.oanda.com.
[47] Interview with anonymous mine survivor, Ukhia, 21 March 2005.
[48] Interview with anonymous mine survivor, Naikongchari, 6 January 2006.
[49] Interview with Amattya Roy, Public Relations Officer, Memorial Christian Hospital, Malumghat, Cox’s Bazar, 17 March 2006.
[50] US Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2005: Bangladesh,” Washington DC, 8 March 2006.