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Dog Teams Seek A Hidden Enemy In Afghan War

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Khalid Ahmad trains Betty, a 20-month-old German shepherd, to search for mines in a straight line. Photo by William M. Welch

By William M. Welch for USA TODAY

KABUL — In the struggle to bring peace to Afghanistan, few can claim a more dangerous job than the one Betty and Jimmy are preparing for.

Friendly and eager young German shepherd dogs, they are being trained to search for the remnants of war — hidden land mines and unexploded bombs.

Not only do unseen explosives kill military troops, they take a heavy toll on the innocent. More than 700 civilians are killed or maimed annually in Afghanistan, over half of them children, says the International Committee to Ban Landmines.

NATO and U.S. forces fighting the Taliban jihadist movement do not use mines. But the Taliban does, and so did former occupiers of Afghanistan such as the Soviet Union.

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