- Panicked, confused and stammering, as he relives those tragic moments in his life, "Wadaadi Mumad" begins to tell his story with a landmine exploding through his body, as if it had just fallen.

The effects of the mine were not limited to smashing his leg and causing severe injuries to large areas of his body, especially in the abdomen, back and around them, and destroying his dreams, but apparently affected important aspects of his psyche, he says.

Amid sighs between each word, while lying in the offices of a support organization in Tarter Province, western Azerbaijan, the 50-year-old “Mumad” explained to us how his companion hit a mine directly and died instantly, while he escaped from certain death despite the severe injuries he sustained. .

Describing the incident that occurred in 1992 in the Sindram area, which is still under the Armenian occupation, he says, "I panicked and started to feel severe pain, then I lost consciousness."

One of the mine victims extended in the Karabakh region (Al-Jazeera)

Scraping the skin and cutting the meat

The manifestations of confusion reach their peak, as he recalls the restoration operations that his body underwent, including scraping his skin and cutting bundles of flesh from his thighs and hips to plug deep grooves in his injured leg.

The case of Mummad is no different from thousands of others here, in Tarter, 327 km west of the capital, Baku, or in other areas of Karabakh. Among these young men, Azad Hasanov, we met in the village of Hasan Qaya in the province.

Hasanouf, 27, told us how his leg hit a landmine while he was grazing his sheep near the village in June 2020. He says that a mine exploded initially in one of the goats, and that he thought it was an artillery attack, where he hid and then returned to hit himself with another mine, and says, " I felt like I was dying... I shed a lot of blood and lost consciousness and spent 3 months in the hospital."

The explosion resulted in the smashing of one of his legs and severe injuries to parts of his body.

He underwent an operation in Baku to install a prosthetic leg that he never felt comfortable with.

Azad Hasanov and his sheep fell into a minefield (Al-Jazeera)


Mines and unexploded ordnance since the end of the last war in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 have killed 32 civilians and injured more than seventy.

Since its end, the government has neutralized 67,000 mines and unexploded military ordnance in the liberated lands.

A few days ago, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Azerbaijani Agency for Demining, Fogar Suleymanov, stated that after the last war, his foundation cleared more than 50 thousand hectares of land from mines.

The government expects the presence of more than one million, so far, in the ground, especially in the areas of Tartar, Aghdam, Shusha, Khojawand, Fuzuli, Qabadli, Jibrael and Zangilan.

In addition to the government, in its raging war against mines, 4 civil society organizations are active in these campaigns, most notably the Eurasia International Foundation, which has started demining operations since 2000, according to the director of its regional office, Oguz Mirzayev.

Today, that office has 80 employees, and the Foundation has partnerships with a number of international organizations.

Shahin Allah Fodya: Our work was not limited to mines, but also missiles, tank ammunition and cannons (Al-Jazeera)

The Director of Operations in the Foundation's Regional Office, Shahin Allah Fodya, says that his organization's teams neutralized 1,112 anti-tank mines and 1,160 against individuals, two thirds of both types, after the last war at the end of 2020.

He adds that some of those mines were apparently buried in the ground during the last war, and that others were buried in the early nineties of the last century during and after the first war.

According to Fodiya, his foundation's work was not limited to mines, but also missiles, tank ammunition and cannons.

He draws attention to the density of the planted mines, and says that it sometimes reaches 7-8 per square meter, and sometimes 10-15 in the front lines.

The density of the planted mines sometimes reaches 15 mines per square meter (Al-Jazeera)


As we wandered the areas west of Tarter towards the Armenian border, and walked on a paved road built after the last war after sweeping and clearing operations that resulted in the killing and wounding of many workers, we noticed a high density of minefields on both sides of the road.

These alarming numbers predict the extent of the spread of mines in the liberated lands, and the raging war waged by the government and civil society in Azerbaijan against mines, to allow the displaced to return to their homes, and that if the battles above the ground had ended temporarily, before they erupted again two days ago, the great battle to uproot these evils from The interior of the earth has just begun and it will not end overnight.

One of the Eurasia International Foundation teams is preparing to carry out field missions (Al-Jazeera)