By Meryl White
Impunity Watch Reporter, Western and Central Africa
BONDOUKOU, Ivory Coast – Seven children aged four to fifteen, have died after playing with a hand grenade that they found on the ground near their Koranic school. Seven more children were injured in the blast. Two of the children are in critical condition at a hospital in Bondoukou.
The boys picked up the grenades. The first grenade went off when the child removed the pin and resulted in the numerous deaths. After the accident, parents of another child turned the second grenade over to the police as part of Ivory Coast’s disarmament process.
The scene had been described as “just devastating,” by an investigator on Wednesay. He also stated that “One of the children had a severed head.”
Bondoukou is 460 kilometers from the economic capital Abidjan in the south. Moreover, it is the site of a former front line of the five year conflict that ended in March 2007. In March, Laurent Gbagbo, the President of Ivory Coat reached a peace agreement with rebel leader, Guillaume Soro. The rebels released control of northern Ivory Coast.
Today, Mr. Soro is a prime minister in the power-sharing government. Since December, the government has been employing a disarmament process.
Richard Secre, chairman of Bondoukou’s local council, stated “We’re in a zone which isn’t far from the front line. With the war, weapons were moved around but we don’t know how these grenades got here.”
For more information, please see:
BBC- Grenade kills W African children – 2 January 2007
Reuters- Grenade blast kills 7 children in Ivory Coast – 2 January 2007
IC Publications- Seven children die in Ivorian grenade accident: police – 2 January 2007