The experts of European Union's military mission (EUFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina joined a local Civil Protection team to clear from land mines the inaccessible areas on the mountains near Sarajevo, the EUFOR said on Tuesday.
The mines were discovered near a hiking trail in a remote part of one of the peaks of the Treskavica Mountain, where access by vehicles was impossible, according to the EUFOR's statement, but with the help of the mission's helicopters, the teams were brought in close enough so they could walk to the mined area and begin making it safe.
The Civil Protection teams of Bosnia's Federation entity (FUCZ) are regular partners with EUFOR and are mine clearance experts in their own right, according to Chief EUFOR demining and explosives expert Lieutenant Colonel Markus Haider said.
“EUFOR has worked with these teams many times and we practice the delicate operation of winching into remote locations as often as we can. The mine education is also a big part of what we do here at EUFOR and the training groups aim to be back into local schools in September,” he added.
The combined EUFOR-Bosnia and Herzegovina team used the knowledge of the hikers to pinpoint exactly where to begin the search and clearance operation. Once the two mines were located, it didn’t take long for the explosives experts to identify the type of device and deal with the threat and remove the danger. The FUCZ team used a controlled explosion to render the mines safe.
COVID-19 restrictions have meant that the routine mine safety training delivered by EUFOR teams to schools and social clubs across Bosnia has been suspended. This type of training reached almost 20000 people in 2019 and EUFOR aims to restart the program as soon as social distancing measures are eased.
“Using our collective assets today to make this area safe is vital work and is a great example of close cooperation between EUFOR and BiH Agencies. This is a remote area and the helicopter allows us to get in quickly to help prevent a future tragedy,” Head of Joint Military Affairs at EUFOR, Colonel Joerg Stopka said.