Landmines cleared from Falkland Islands 38 years after conflict

FILE PHOTO: The coast of the West Falkland, of the Falkland Islands, is seen from an airplane May 20, 2018. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

LONDON (Reuters) - The final landmines on the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic have been cleared, Britain said on Tuesday, nearly 40 years after they were laid by Argentine forces when they seized the British territory.

The removal of the mines meant the United Kingdom had met its obligations set by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, Britain’s Foreign Office (FCDO) said, adding that there were now no anti-personnel mines on British soil anywhere in the world.

Argentina invaded the archipelago, to which it lays claim, in 1982. Britain sent a task force to retake the islands in a brief war which saw more than 600 Argentine and 255 British servicemen killed.

A British-funded programme, which started in 2009, to de-mine the islands completed its mission three years ahead of schedule, the FCDO said.

“This is a huge achievement for the Islands and we must pay tribute to the brilliant team of deminers who put their lives at risk day to day removing and destroying landmines to make the Falklands safe,” said Wendy Morton, UK Minister with responsibility for the Falklands.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Michael Holden