Report: Fewer new land mine victims last year

The number of reported land mine casualties worldwide declined for the sixth year in a row, but efforts to treat victims remain grossly inadequate, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines said in a report Tuesday. At least 6,521 people were killed or maimed by land mine blasts last year, compared with 8,065 in 2003, the group said in its annual Landmine Monitor report, which was released during a conference in Medellin, Colombia's second-biggest city. The actual casualty figures, however, could be as high as 20,000 since many cases go unreported, said Kathleen Maes of Handicap International, a victims' group that helped produce the report. The vast majority of casualties were civilians, and one-fifth were children, the report said.