Kasese school uses bomb as a bell

Sunday July 3 2011

By Thembo Kahungu Misairi

A bomb was last week found at Ikobero Church of Uganda Primary School in Kitholhu Sub-county in Kasese District, being used as a bell for change of lessons and calling pupils for school assemblies.

According to Mr Wilson Bwambale, the Coordinator of the Anti-Mine Network Rwenzori (AMNET), it was shocking to find out that an unexploded bomb was ignorantly being used as a bell at a school. AMNET is an organisation working in the community to find and explode landmines.

Ikobero Church of Uganda Primary School has an enrollment of about 700 pupils, who were at a risk of being hit by the bomb had it exploded before AMNET-R’s intervention.

Mr Bwambale said that the bomb was discovered when AMNET-R took its Mine awareness training to the school. When the bell was rang to call pupils to order, he saw it and told them that it was a bomb.

Bwambale said the only chance the school has had since they picked the machine for a bell is that it was a strong bomb that can only be exploded by a strong force, much more than the mere hitting by a stone.

“It was a shock to us to find out that what the school was using as a bell was a bomb. Its head was still active, which means that if it is hit by a stronger force, it would explode instantly and cause untold destruction in the area.But we withdrew it to a cordoned place, where it will soon be exploded,” Bwambale said.

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The bomb has been stored in a cordoned-off place awaiting a team of experts from Europe and the Uganda Mine Action centre to explode it, alongside others found in different parts of the district. This was once a war-zone during the 1996-2002 conflict between government forces who battled and defeated rebel Allied Democratic Forces.

Second bomb
This is the second bomb to be found in a school in less than six months. Another one was found at Muhindi primary school early this year, when teachers confiscated it from pupils who were using it as a plaything, and kept it in the stores. The bomb was exploded later after it was identified by AMNET-R.

Mr Jackson Mumbere, a project officer with AMNET-R, fears that Kasese District is yet to be safe from further landmine explosions, as it seems that many more unexploded devices are still out there in the countryside.
He said Kisinga, Kyondo, Ihandiro, Munkunyu, Nyakiyumbu,Kyalhumba, Rukoki and Bugoye Sub-counties need thorough searches to discover the unexploded landmines and bombs.

People ignorant
He said most people are still ignorant about the identity of different types of bombs and explosives. Mumbere revealed that so far, 25 landmines and bombs will soon be exploded after being spotted in the different parts of the district.

There are more than 50 landmine victims under the care of Handicap International, which works with AMNET-R in the Rwenzori region.

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