Mozambique: Mortar Shell Kills Four Children in Tete

Maputo — Tete (Mozambique), 6 Oct (AIM) - Although Mozambique has been declared a country free of land mines, explosive devices left over from the war of destabilisation are still claiming victims.

The latest were four children killed and two others injured when an 82 mm mortar shell exploded last week in the Mateius Sansao Muthemba neighbourhood in the western city of Tete.

AIM received this information on Sunday from Lopes Raul, the Tete city secretary of the Mozambique Youth Organisation (OJM), the youth wing of the ruling Frelimo party, who was delivering foodstuffs to the families of the victims.

The two injured children were discharged from hospital on Friday. Their injuries were caused by shrapnel from the shell which exploded when they were trying to extract aluminium from the device in order to sell it to artisans who make saucepans from scrap metal.

The dead and injured children live near Mount Caloera which was used as a shooting range by the Mozambican armed forces during the war, which explains why there are still unexploded shells lying around.

Residents of the area told AIM that farmers have discovered three other explosive devices, which were handed over to the police to be destroyed. The residents think the whole area should now be demined to avoid any further tragedies.

"We followed this sad news", said Lopes Raul. "We could not remain indifferent to this situation - hence this gesture of charity. We recognise this will not meet all the needs, but it will reduce them, and serve as an example for others".

He added that childen should be taught not to touch old military equipment they may find. "They should inform adults of the presence of something strange, so that specialists can be called in to remove it".

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