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Allegation: Turkey breaking landmine ban

ISTANBUL, Turkey, April 16 (UPI) -- Records indicating the Turkish military planted banned landmines in a southeastern province a year ago were published in a Turkish newspaper Friday.

The Taraf daily published military documents showing M2A4 anti-personnel mines were planted on the outskirts of the province of Sirnak on April 9, 2009, despite Turkey's voluntary agreement to be mine-free by March 1, 2014, Zaman reported.

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Turkey signed on to the Mine Ban Treaty, or the Ottawa Treaty, along with 155 other countries in 2003. Turkey agreed to completely destroy its landmine stocks by March 1, 2008, although the process is still ongoing, the report said. The treaty also calls for the country to be swept and cleared of all mines by March 1, 2014.

However, because the treaty is voluntary, there is no punishment for non-compliance.

Last May, seven Turkish soldiers were killed by a landmine in the same region and suspicions were published the mines had been planted by the banned separatist Kurdistan group known as the PKK. A subsequent investigation determined the mine belonged to the Turkish military, the report said.

There was no immediate response from military officials about the report.

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