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Lankan boy dies as bomb explodes in hands during beachcombing

Qadijah Irshad
Filed on June 6, 2012

COLOMBO — A 15-year-old boy was killed when a bomb belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) exploded in his hands at a beach in Nainateevu, Jaffna.

Investigations have revealed that the ‘Arul bomb’ which the boy had picked up on the beach 10 minutes away from his home, was corroded and was unidentifiable as an explosive.

The bomb was a popular explosive used by the LTTE during the three-decade war against the Sri Lankan army.

“We were able to determine that the Arul bomb the boy had picked up was heavily corroded to an extent that the boy could not identify it as an explosive. We believe it might have exploded when he tried to clear the corrosion because he would have thought it was something of value,” said Military Spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya.

The parents of the boy said that their son had the habit of combing the beach for interesting items every morning.

Nainateevu, which houses the famous Nagadeepa Buddhist temple to which worshippers flock from all parts of the island, was a stronghold of the army and navy during the war.

The tiny Nainateevu island is also home to a Hindu temple in the vicinity of which the boy was killed.

The government calls the boy’s death an “isolated incident,” and has urged the population living in former war-torn areas to take be more vigilant.

“The Sri Lanka Mine Action Team has been conducting an extensive mine-risk awareness programme in the North and the East, and we are confident that every civillian living in those areas have undergone training in this regard. We request the people to take instructions seriously and not take unnecessary risks,” said Brigadier Wanigasuriya

Since the government won the bitter war in 2009, it implemented a heavy de-mining programme in the North and East from where the rebel forces operated.

The guerrilla group was infamous for its heavy and unpredictable use of landmines and even used devices in a bid to stop fleeing civillians during the latter part of the war.

According to the government, the demining programme has been successful and ahead of schedule. Statistics reveal that of the 2,061 square kilometres of land that has been identified for demining, 1,938 square kilometres has been successfully cleared.

The 122 square kilometres of forest land left to clear, however is cited as the most challenging bit for the government.

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