Afghanistan

Afghan children learn about dangers of mines

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HERAT, Afghanistan (June 26) - More than 6,000 Afghan school children in Herat have learned more about the dangers of mines and how to keep themselves safe through Operation White Butterfly, a Provincial Reconstruction Team Herat program.

The Italian-run PRT has visited children in more than 16 schools since starting the program May 31.

The program's name comes from the "White Butterfly," an anti-personnel mine shaped like a butterfly. Gen. Antonio Satta, PRT Herat commander, is overseeing the program throughout western Afghanistan.

Recently, the PRT members presented the program to 500 students of the Baba Hagi School. Capt. Saverio Cucinotta, chief of explosives ordnance disposal at PRT Herat, taught the students how to recognize and avoid the white butterfly mines, and what to do if they come upon one. During the class discussion, a young Afghan girl named Khaterah told the Italians that one of the devices was close to her house. Afghan National Police responded to handle the unexploded ordnance, according to an RC-West official.

Warrant Officer Raspa Gualberto received applause from the students and faculty members when he said the Italian EOD team had defused approximately 4,000 explosive devices in the past six months.

Mohammed Ismail, director of Baba Hagi, and Mohammed Azim, head teacher, thanked the EOD team for teaching the students mine awareness.