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Syria landmine blast kills 16 truffle hunters: monitor

By AFP

March 16, 2024 07:02 PM


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At least 16 people searching for truffles in the north Syria desert were killed Saturday after their vehicle hit a landmine, a war monitor said.

Between February and April each year, hundreds of impoverished Syrians risk their lives searching for truffles in the vast Syrian desert, or Badia -- a known hideout for jihadists that is also littered with mines.

"Sixteen civilians including at least nine women were killed and others seriously wounded" when their small truck hit a mine in an area where Islamic State (IS) group extremists are present in Raqa province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based Observatory said the truck was carrying more than 20 civilians who were searching for desert truffles, which fetch high prices in a country battered by 13 years of war and a crushing economic crisis.

Recent weeks have seen repeated deadly mine blasts as Syrians hunt for truffles.

Authorities have frequently warned against the high-risk practice.

Earlier this month, gunmen thought to be linked to IS killed 18 people, mostly civilians, in a desert attack on a group of truffle hunters, the Observatory had reported.

Last month, state media said a landmine left by IS killed 14 people foraging for truffles in the Raqa desert.

In March 2019, IS lost its last scraps of territory in Syria following a military campaign backed by a US-led coalition, but jihadist remnants continue to hide in the desert and launch deadly attacks.

They have ambushed civilians as well as Kurdish-led forces, Syrian government troops and pro-Iran fighters, while also mounting attacks in neighbouring Iraq.


AFP


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