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Colombia and Ecuador receive aid for military mine-removal operations

The Colombian and Ecuadorian armies received equipment and financial assistance between late February and early March 2022 to improve mine, improvised explosive device (IED), and unexploded ordnance (UXO) removal operations.

The Office for Security Cooperation at the US Embassy in Ecuador donated USD1.3 million on 3 March to the army's Engineer Battalion No. 68 “Cotopaxi.” This money will be utilised for two projects: training of personnel, and mine removal operations in Ecuador's Zamora Chinchipe province along the border with Peru. The donation will increase the battalion's activities by 40%, according to a US Embassy press release.

On 21 February, Japan also donated two transportation trucks to the Colombian Army, plus one tractor and one low-loader. The service has not disclosed which units will operate the new equipment.

Ecuador and Peru are removing mines left over from the 1995 conflict from their common border as a peacebuilding mechanism. For Colombia, narco-insurgent groups like the National Liberation Army (ELN) and dissident factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) pose a challenge since they still utilise IEDs. During the first week of March, the Colombian Army's explosive and demolitions team “Delta” (Equipo de Explosivos y Demoliciones: EXDE) and the 1st Division's explosive removal unit “Grupo Marte” removed IEDs, including at least one mortal shell, in the Arauca, Cesar, and Meta departments.

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