2 boys killed as old grenade explodes in southern Philippines

BenarNews staff
Zamboanga, Philippines
2 boys killed as old grenade explodes in southern Philippines A police officer in a bomb disposal suit participates in an anti-terrorism simulation exercise in Manila, April 12, 2018.

Two boys, aged 6 and 8, were killed and two other children were seriously injured Friday when an old grenade they were playing with exploded in the southern Philippines, police and authorities said.

The explosion occurred near Kumalarang, a town in Zamboanga del Sur province. The surrounding Mindanao region is rife with Muslim militant and communist insurgent activity.

Police identified the two boys who died as John Kin Gregorio and John Leo Miro; his brother, John Michael Miro, 8, and a friend, Rea Fee Pucolan, 13, were injured in the blast, police said.

The children were seen “carrying and later playing with a rusted out, tube-like object,” Staff Sgt. Ulysses Ragojos, the case investigator, quoted a relative of the children as saying.

The victims “were playing with the said rusty pipe on the wooden bench, after which it suddenly exploded causing fatal injuries on the victims,” Ragojos said in his initial report about the incident, a copy of which reporters saw.

“Two of the victims were dead on the spot and the other two victims were rushed” to a hospital where they were treated for serious injuries, he said without identifying the hospital. 

Investigators had not released a full report on the incident, but sources told BenarNews that the ordnance resembled a 40 mm rifle grenade, an explosive commonly used by Muslim militants and communist insurgents who operate in the region.

“We were informed [that] the father of the Miro kids found unexploded ordnance, a tube for the rifle grenade from the Diplo River. He brought it home and cut it, then disposed of the other half. Unfortunately, the kids found the said tube and played with it,” Kumalarang Mayor Ruel Molina told Inquirer.net.

Military and police authorities have been advising people to report and surrender recovered unexploded ordnance to avoid any harm – noting that people often sell the metal for scrap.

Officials did not release details about whether similar explosives had been found in this area.

Meanwhile, portions of the southern city of Marawi have remained off limits to residents for nearly five years because of unexploded ordnance remaining from bombs dropped by government forces against Islamic State-linked militants during a five-month battle that ended in October 2017. The government has not been able to remove many of the estimated 1,000 unexploded bombs from parts of the city.

More recently, the communist New People’s Army admitted to detonating a landmine in June 2021 that killed two civilians and injured another in the central province of Masbate, drawing condemnation from the government.

Elsewhere, unexploded landmines have been left behind, posing danger to civilians, the military has said.


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