When it comes to antipersonnel mines, generals and warlords are spoilt for choice.
Over 350 varieties have been documented, supplied by more than 50 countries.
But there are five main types.
The most common mines of all, these explode when stepped on. Laid in the ground, they rely on the power of the explosion alone to do their damage.
The PMN mine shown here is the variety that has probably killed more civilians than any other. Made by the former Soviet Union, it has also been produced by Iraq and possibly other countries as well. Due to its large explosive charge it often kills and is designed to be virtually impossible to neutralize.
Activated by tripwires just a few centimetres above the ground, these mines shoot out hundreds of metal fragments at twice the speed of ordinary bullets. Often mounted on stakes or tied to trees and undergrowth, they are also known as stake mines.
This example is a POMZ-2 fragmentation mine which is usually planted in clusters. Of Soviet origin, similar mines have been made by former Czechoslovakia, former Yugoslavia, China, Egypt and South Korea.
BOUNDING FRAGMENTATION MINES
These mines leap up into the air to about chest level before exploding into fragments. They kill whoever sets them off and can wound people over a much wider radius than surface mines of a similar size.
The Valmara 69 shown here is activated by tripwires connected to its fuse prongs. Stepping on it would also set it off. Manufactured in Italy and on contract in several other countries, it has been widely deployed.
DIRECTIONAL FRAGMENTATION MINES
Shooting out steel balls at high velocity in a predetermined direction, these mines are set off by tripwires or by remote control. Some varieties can kill at up to 200 metres.
This MON-50 is a Soviet version of the widely-used American M-18 Claymore mine. The curved plate is filled with pellets in front of the explosive.
Scatterable mines do not need to be laid by hand; they can be scattered from aircraft or by artillery. They land on the ground without exploding and some are even capable of setting up their own tripwires.
The notorious Soviet PFM-1 'butterfly' blast mine (above) widely used in Afghanistan. Its design is intended to ensure that it glides to the ground though children have found it fascinating to their cost. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and coming in camouflage colours green and sand it blends in with the terrain.
The lightweight, irregularly shaped SB-33 blast mine (made in Italy) can be scattered in large numbers by helicopters. Its mottled surface makes it difficult to detect by sight. It has an anti-shock device that prevents it from being detonated by explosions or artificial pressure.
ALL PHOTOS: ICRC / THIERRY GASSMANN, EXCEPT VALMARA 69: MAG
ALL OF THESE KILL CIVILIANS - NONE STOPS AN ARMY IN ITS TRACKS
Copyright New Internationalist Magazine 1997
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