Recently a faded black and white picture of the beach of Kuwait, which was clicked in 1992, was discovered from the archive of Daily Arab Times. The image showcases a group of Bangladeshi soldiers searching for mines on the beach of Kuwait.
The Bangladeshi minesweepers were called upon to sweep the beach, as the mines in the beach were not cleared properly after the Gulf War. The Bangladeshi mine sweepers later found a few explosives on that beach.
They were not the best equipped minesweepers of the time. They relied on simple mine detectors and their skill in manual search, which certainly puts them in a higher risk. How well did they perform despite the limitations?
When the image was brought to the attention of a Bangladeshi engineer, he reminisced about the incidents he had gone through in the time of Iraqi invasion in 1990.
The Bangladeshi engineer said he used to serve in an important Kuwaiti government office prior to the Iraqi invasion. The engineer made a daring attempt to infiltrate into the server room while the office was occupied by Iraqis.
His attempt saved the valuable database of the office. However, a few days after, he was called by the Iraqis occupying that office. Sensing possible danger, he left Kuwait and moved to Bangladesh taking a difficult road journey through Iran, Pakistan and India.
This engineer returned to Kuwait after the liberation. As he landed in Kuwait Airport, a Kuwaiti embraced him as soon he gave his Bangladeshi identity.
The Kuwaiti said to him that the Bangladeshi military was doing a splendid job.
Currently, there are 350,000 Bangladeshi migrant workers in Kuwait, Arab News reports citing embassy data.
The Gulf war and the mines
On August 2, 1990 Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait in an attempt to gain more control over the profitable oil supply of the Middle East. In response, the UN Security Council and the United States demanded the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait, but Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein refused.
As a result, a coalition of 34 nations led by the United States began an intensive bombing campaign against strategic Iraqi locations. These events are known as the first Gulf War and resulted in the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait. However, the Iraqis set 600 Kuwaiti oil wells on fire during their retreat.
During the war, Iraq widely deployed some 16 types of naval mines in the waters off Kuwait and the Fao peninsula of Iraq.
According to The New York Times report, more than 100 mines were found by allied warships since the invasion of Kuwait in August, but many of those were floating freely, having torn away from their moorings.
After the end of the war, the American vessels and helicopters in the northern Gulf along with British, Saudi, Italy and France minesweeping forces destroyed the mines.
The most modern minehunters used methods that involve helicopters dragging sleds through the water, wooden- and plastic-bottomed boats with sensitive sonars, robotic submarines with television cameras and specially trained divers and sharpshooters to destroy the mines.
Whereas the Bangladeshi minehunters took high risk to make the Kuwait beach safe with simple mine detectors and their skill in manual search.
The report was prepared based on information from Arab Times Online.