Islamic State using Kiwi landmines from WWII

Spearheaded by 20,000 New Zealand soldiers, the Second Battle of El Alamein in November 1942 was the first great British victory of World War II, and helped turn the tide of the war against Nazi Germany.

Millions of landmines were laid in Libya's and Egypt's western desert before the battle by both sides, and most are still active. Now, Islamic State (IS) fighters have begun digging them up and using the explosives to wage terror.

The Egyptian government has revealed it believes both al-Qaeda and IS fighters have been digging up the land mines in Libya and Egypt, and using the TNT explosives in them for their own bombs.

The Egyptians want the UK, German and Italian governments to help clean up the landmines, but so far they've done little to help solve the problem.

Kiwi troops had to navigate their way through the massive mine field 75 years ago, where they successfully attacked the opposing forces of Germany's Afrika Corps and Italian armies in several key advances.

Māori soldiers from New Zealand perform a haka during World War II
A famous photo of Māori soldiers performing a haka before the El Alamein campaign. (Supplied)

The New Zealanders paid a massive price for their success though, suffering more than 14,000 casualties in 1942. It was New Zealand's bloodiest campaign of the war.

Wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously described the battle: "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat."

The battle has a terrible legacy, as more than 8000 Egyptians have been accidentally killed or wounded by the landmines since, with thousands losing their limbs.

The western desert mine fields were the largest laid in history, and the Egyptian army now has the unenviable task of clearing the 17 million mines that are left there, three-quarters of a century later.

Incredibly, one-fifth of Egypt's landmass is unusable because of the enormous fields of landmines.