Improvised explosive devices inflict much more serious injuries than land mines 

The types of close contact injuries inflicted by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are much more serious than those associated with land mines, finds research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Landmines came into widespread use in the Second World War, where they were designed to injure/maim rather than to kill, with a view to stressing the medical resource of the enemy.

Many were left buried in the ground in regions of conflict long after the fighting had ended, causing them to be inadvertently detonated by civilians stepping on them. But after a high profile campaign, 162 countries signed the 1997 Ottawa Treaty pledging to stop their production and use.

However, they have increasingly been replaced in modern warfare with improvised explosive devices, usually known as IEDs.

Injuries sustained by 100 people during IED attacks in Afghanistan over 18 months in 2010-11 were compared  with similar injuries previously described for landmines.

All the casualties, who comprised both local civilians and military personnel, were male, and aged between 6 and 44 years of age. Their average age was 25; nine were under the age of 18.

In all comparisons or injuries and fatalities, IEDs were far more devastating than landmines.

IEDs are sometimes portrayed as a primitive or crude weapon crafted from locally available resources because of a lack of access to conventional weapons, but they have evolved and are now more sophisticated, directed, and destructive, say the researchers.

Just like landmines, they indiscriminately maim and kill. And that includes children, who tend to suffer the most severe injuries as a result of the powerful explosive force of an IED.

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