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Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2006, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Lebanon mines 'continue to kill'
A mine expert examines a cluster bomblet in Tibnin, southern Lebanon
The UN has criticised Israel's use of cluster bombs
Landmines and cluster munitions are continuing to kill and injure between three and four civilians in Lebanon each day, a campaign group has said.

Landmine Action is calling for an international ban on the weapons.

The UN estimates that there may be as many as one million unexploded cluster bomblets in south Lebanon, fired by Israel during the month-long conflict.

US-based group Human Rights Watch says Hezbollah also used cluster bombs, a claim rejected by a Hezbollah MP.

Hassan Hoballah told the BBC the accusations were false.

"We did not use these bombs. We don't have them. And we reject the use of these bombs anywhere in the world because they hurt civilians, especially when dropped on residential areas. Our stance is consistent. It can never change," he said.

Cluster munitions are packed with dozens of bomblets which scatter across large areas, often failing to detonate.

A third of those killed or injured by the bombs in Lebanon are children.

Cluster bomblet

"There is no current law specifically on cluster bombs," the director of Landmine Action, Simon Conway, told the BBC news website.

"It is an indiscriminate weapon that serves no military objectives.

"They are a relic of the cold war, designed for conflict on an industrial scale on the central European plain and the Korean peninsula. That war never happened. Instead we fight wars amongst the people and if by our choice of weapons we kill large numbers of innocent civilians we will not achieve our political objectives."

Israel insists that the munitions it uses in conflict comply with international law and says it is being unfairly singled out while the same munitions have been used for years by Western countries.

Small harvests

Pressure group Human Rights Watch says it has found evidence that cluster bombs were also used by Hezbollah militants during the conflict.

It says the spread to such non-state actors is worrying because it could indicate that the use of the weapon is proliferating.

Although the weapon, unlike anti-personnel mines, is legal, its indiscriminate and excessive use is not.

In South Lebanon, the BBC's Kim Ghattas describes how unexploded bomblets litter the ground, hang from trees and remain half-hidden beneath the soil.

Activists say that their size and shape - often similar to a can of drink - can make them particularly attractive to children.

Landmine Action says 35% of those killed or injured in South Lebanon are under the age of 18.

It warns that the presence of the bombs across agricultural land, as well as in residential areas, is hampering a return to farming activities for many Lebanese, forcing them to abandon harvests.




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Children are shown how to spot and avoid cluster bombs



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