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Iraqi children play football with mines

PUBLISHED: 10:54 21 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:45 03 March 2010

The Garden of Eden is no paradise - but a dump festooned with unexploded bombs where children play football with mines.

Suffolk-based troops who have been patrolling the area are baffled by Iraqis cavalier attitude towards deadly munitions waiting to go off.

The Garden of Eden is no paradise - but a dump festooned with unexploded bombs where children play football with mines.

Suffolk-based troops who have been patrolling the area are baffled by Iraqis cavalier attitude towards deadly munitions waiting to go off.

Transport warrant officer Daz Breeden tried to warn residents of a village near the famous biblical site of the danger of interfering with the unexploded ordnance littering the country following the conflict against Saddam Hussein's evil regime.

The 37-year-old, who when he is not serving with 3 Regiment Army Air Corps is a player-coach at Ipswich's Crane Sports Football Club, was stunned that children were playing soccer with lethal anti-personnel mines right in front of colleagues in the helicopter unit.

"They were just kicking the mines about," added medic Sgt Glenn Reeves, 32, from Stowmarket. "They obviously didn't realise how dangerous they are."

WO2 Breeden told how he taped off a huge stash of unexploded ammunition with mine tape to keep locals away, only to see the next day villagers in Medina, central Iraq, had stolen the tape overnight. The next night the same thing happened – to the father-of-three's disbelief.

"There were thousands upon thousands of Iraqi grenades and mortar bombs and around 60 per cent still had their detonators in – they were armed and ready to explode.

"They have no awareness at all about the ordnance and how dangerous it is."

More than 140 ammo dumps packed full of explosives abandoned by retreating Iraqi forces have been unearthed by troops with 16 Air Assault Brigade in the region of Amara.

But Iraqis' urge to plunder anything they can lay their hands on means they freely carry stacks of plastic explosives like bundles of firewood to use as fuel.

Teams of Royal Engineers are hard pushed to clear the bomb sites to stop curiosity killing and maiming innocent Iraqis.

WO2 Breeden, of Lovestofts Drive, Ipswich, is serving with nine other footballers from Crane Sports FC.

They are: L/Cpls Paul Sillence; Stuart Wright; Jim Box; Mark Cootes; Air Troopers Gavin Curtis; David Griffiths; Andy Short; Mick Pollard; Sean McGuigan.


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