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After decades of work, Mozambique declares itself free of landmines

It took more than 20 years, but Mozambique is now officially free of landmines.

The HALO Trust, a British charity, said Thursday that since 1993, it has cleared more than 171,000 landmines from 1,100 minefields across the country. Landmines were first planted in the 1960s during a war for independence from Portugal, which was followed by a civil war. They were placed around dams and railroads, usually about 5 centimeters (2 inches) underground. The government does not know how many people have been killed or injured by landmines in Mozambique, but Human Rights Watch estimates that 8,000 amputees have received medical treatment and thousands more have been killed or did not seek help, Al Jazeera reports.

The last known landmine was destroyed on Wednesday, and while there are likely single mines still in Mozambique, officials say they don't expect to find a minefield. Nguila Nhamposse, 78, lost his leg in 1993 after he stepped on a landmine while trying to recover the body of a neighbor who died after triggering a mine. He says his wife left him because he couldn't provide for his family, and that it's been difficult for him to do simple tasks like carry water for a shower. He would not comment on the people who buried the landmines, but was grateful for the HALO Trust. "All I can say is thank you to the people who removed the mines," he told The Guardian. "It was not only for me but for everyone here."