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Mike Chinoy: I heard the land mine explosion

(CNN) -- Three U.S. Marines on Sunday were injured in a land mine explosion at the Kandahar airport. CNN Correspondent Mike Chinoy was within earshot of the explosion and filed this report.

CHINOY: I was at the side of one part of the runway here at Kandahar airport, being showed a mine field by the Marines, when we heard an explosion several hundred meters away down the runway. It turned out that three Marine combat engineers had been injured in a land mine explosion there, one of them stepping on a mine. The Marines were going through a field they thought was free of mines to a house that they were going to clear of mines.

The three Marines were brought here to the tarmac at the center of the airport and put on a helicopter. Then they were evacuated to the field hospital at the Marine base at Camp Rhino in the Afghan desert south of Kandahar. This is the first time the Marines have sustained casualties since they occupied Kandahar airport on Friday.

More Marines have been coming in since then, trying to consolidate their positions. One of the biggest challenges underscored by this latest incident is the profusion of land mines. Three sides of the airport are completely surrounded by land mines.

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In addition, Marine ordnance disposal experts have told me that they have uncovered in virtually every building here in the airport compound munitions that were left behind by fleeing Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, including mines, artillery, rocket-propelled grenades, and surface-to-air missiles. It's a very, very dangerous environment. Add to that concerns about security from Taliban and al Qaeda fighters who may have mingled with the local population nearby.

I was told by an Afghan journalist -- we're working with some of the journalists in the town -- that the Afghan guards here at the gates say that they detained two Arab al Qaeda members trying to reach this airport compound last night. So security and safety for mines and ordnance remain big concerns for the Marines here.


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