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Falkland Islands to be land-mine-free nearly 40 years after war

A robot undergoes testing in a mine-clearance operation by British troops in the Falkland Islands in 1985.
A remote-controlled robot undergoes testing in a mine-clearance operation by British army troops in the Falkland Islands in 1985.
(John Leonard / Associated Press)

Britain’s Foreign Office says that the Falkland Islands will soon be land-mine-free — almost 40 years after the United Kingdom and Argentina went to war over the South Atlantic archipelago.

A British-funded mine clearing program that started in 2009 is set to end three years ahead of schedule, the British government said. With the completion of the program, no anti-personnel mines from the 1982 conflict will remain on the Falklands or any other British territory.

“Our commitment to ridding the world of fatal land mines does not end with our territories being mine-free,” said Wendy Morton, the government minister responsible for the Falklands. “A further 36 million pounds [$47.6 million] of U.K. funding will allow de-mining projects across the world to continue, protecting innocent civilian lives.”

The funding will help Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

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People on the Falklands will detonate the final mine in a ceremony Saturday that will also include cutting down fences to reopen access to formerly mine-strewn beaches.

Argentina lost the war for the islands after its troops embarked on an ill-fated invasion. The conflict claimed the lives of 649 Argentines and 255 British soldiers.

Argentina still claims the islands, which it calls the Malvinas. Britain says the Falklands are a self-governing entity under its protection.


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