A Greek soldier was killed yesterday while taking part in a demining operation in the northeastern prefecture of Evros, near the border with Turkey, when a land mine blew up in his hands, the army general staff said. Sergeant Major Evangelos Xenakis was taking part in a minefield clearing operation in the area of Manitsa as part of the international Ottawa Convention, banning anti-personnel mines, which Greece ratified two years ago. Greece still has thousands of mines along the border area which it must clear by 2014 under the terms of the treaty. Dozens of illegal immigrants have been killed in the minefields while trying to cross into Greece from Turkey in the last decade – the most recent case involved two Georgians who died just over two weeks ago. Xenakis was seriously injured when the mine exploded at 8.45 a.m. and died of his wounds as he was being taken to hospital in Alexandroupolis, the army said. Military authorities have launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the soldier’s death.