At least 22 children killed after bomb detonates at Somali soccer field

at least 22 children killed after bomb detonates at somali soccer field

Unexploded ordnance likely left over from years of fighting in Somalia was blamed for an incident in which dozens of people, including 22 children, were killed Friday in an accidental explosion. File Photo by Said Yusef Warsame/EPA

June 10 (UPI) — At least 22 children are among the dozens of people killed and wounded after coming into contact with an explosive device that detonated during a recreational soccer game in Somalia on Friday, local authorities said.

Abdirahman Yusuf Al Adala, the governor of Janaale town in southern Somalia, said 27 people died and 53 others were hurt in the incident, official state media reported.

The children killed were all boys between the ages of 10 and 15, a local deputy district commissioner told China’s Xinhua News Agency.

The children were in the midst of playing soccer on an open public field in the village.

The unexploded ordnance was likely there as the result of years of fighting in the war-torn country, according to The Halo Trust, the world’s largest humanitarian landmine clearance charity.

Al Adala said the explosive was a large piece of metal, leading some onlookers to attempt to use it as a cooking tool. It then detonated when exposed to fire and heat.

It was not immediately clear if it was a landmine or other type of discarded bomb.

“I would like to tell the people of Janaale to be cautious of the old metals, if anyone finds something that has rust and seems old, please do not go near it and please make sure to report it to the authorities before anyone gets hurt,” Al Adala said.

“I ask the government and the aid agencies to provide assistance to the people affected by this tragic incident,” he added.

Two of the children first injured in the blast later died on the way to the hospital.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund said it is “deeply shocked and horrified” by the blast in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region.

“This tragic incident underlines the importance of all parties to the conflict in Somalia to handle ordnance with care, to clear existing mines and unexploded devices, and scale up mine risk education among children and communities,” UNICEF said in a statement.

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