Kosovo child killed and five injured by leftover Nato bomb

PRISTINA, Mar 14, 2000 -- (Reuters) A child was killed and five others injured when a NATO bomb dropped in last year's air strikes on Yugoslavia exploded in northern Kosovo, international peacekeepers (KFOR) said Monday.

"The first indications from the investigation are that the children were playing with the American BLU97 mortar bomb," a KFOR spokesman in the northern torn of Kosovska Mitrovica added.

The accident occurred on Saturday a few kilometres south of Mitrovica. An earlier report had attributed the explosion to a landmine.

Three of the children, aged between 10 and 15 years old, are still being treated in hospital.

The field where the children were playing was part of a former Serb headquarters targeted by NATO during the 78-day air bombardment of Yugoslavia which began on March 24, 1999.

One of the children told AFP that one of them had discovered the mortar's "yellow tubes", some of which were empty, others full, lying on the ground.

The explosion happened when he threw one of the tubes at his playmates.

Only 0.6 percent of the "mined" areas in Kosovo have been cleared since the end of the war, according to the Mine Action Coordination centre.

These figures refer to landmines planted by the Yugoslav army and the Kosovo Liberation Army, the former ethnic Albanian separatist guerrilla movement. No figures are available for bombs dropped by NATO.

Since last June, 92 people have been killed and 332 injured by landmines in Yugoslavia.

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