November 2006 News

Toy bomb kills five children in AJK village

10 November 2006
The Dawn

Muzaffarabad: Five minor girls were killed in a remote border village of Azad Kashmir when a small bomb they were playing with went off, police said on Friday. The incident occurred at around 4 pm on Thursday in Kel, more than 180 kilometers northeast of here in the upper belt of Neelum valley, and the victims aged between three to eight years, said police officer Syed Zahoor Gillani. The girls had found the device while playing in a ground of the Girls Intermediate College Kel. They started playing with it and it went off, killing two of them on the spot. The other three succumbed to their wounds in a nearby field hospital, he said. An army official, who declined to be quoted, said the bomb was probably in a heap of sand which local people had dug out from the Neelum River and dumped close to the college ground. Neelum Valley straddles the heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC) which had been scene of regular skirmishes and artillery duels between Indian and Pakistani troops until they struck a historic ceasefire in Nov 2003. Kel was heavily bombed by Indian troops prior to the ceasefire and in one such attack a Pakistan army officer belonging to Muzaffarabad was also killed. The upper belt of picturesque valley does not have any telecom facilities in this modern era technological advancements due to which the tragic news reached the state capital early Friday, official sources said. The only communication facility available in the area is police wireless system but that also stops working after sunset, the sources said, adding that the nearest police station is 30 kilometers from Kel in Sharda, which is also the tehsil headquarters. Mr Gillani said three victims Nahida, 8, Hamida, 5, and Saiqa, 3, were real sisters. The other two, Shaheen, 5, and Shazia, 5, were their school fellows. The authorities were investigating into the incident, he said. The LoC truce will complete its third year later this month and residents and officials say most of the border areas are still littered with unexploded cluster shells or small bombs. Size of the oval shaped small bombs varies from 4 to 5 inches and because of their shape villagers also call them 'toy bombs.' Border area children, pick up, play or carry home these apparently harmless objects, out of ignorance, and become victims of explosions. According to the officials, dozens of people have been killed or critically wounded in border areas in toy bomb explosions even after the ceasefire.


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