Staff Reporter

Explosive was found abandoned at West Fort

Police have recovered bombs from public places

Gangwars have triggered demand for explosives

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A 65-year-old man suffered burns on his chest and face when he tried to dismantle a crude bomb that was found abandoned near Mithranandapuram Temple at West Fort, on Monday.

The police identified the victim as Sivan Pillai, who makes a living salvaging coconuts and metal pieces from un-occupied premises.

Circle Inspector, Fort, B. Harikumar said the victim found the crude bomb in a plastic bag on Sunday. He kept the bag in a corner of the abandoned plot bordering the temple pond. The explosion occurred on Monday morning when he used a blade to prise open the crude bomb.

Quoting explosive experts attached to the State Forensic Sciences Laboratory here, Mr. Harikumar said the bomb was lethal and contained glass and metal pieces. The gun powder found in the device was of the variety used for making crackers. Mr. Harikumar said the explosion was only partial.

He described the lethal device as a crude “throw down type country bomb” that explodes fully only when thrown forcefully at a hard surface. He said Pillai had a narrow escape.

West Fort and the adjoining Mithranandapuram and Punnapuram neighbourhoods have seen several confrontations between Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers this year.

In April, the police arrested “Kannadi” Shaji, a CPI(M) sympathiser hailing from Kowdiar, on the charge of exploding a crude bomb near the RSS headquarters.

Several persons, including children, have been injured when they accidentally set off country bombs stashed away in public places by criminal elements. Only in a few cases have the police been able to pinpoint the accused.

The police suspect that the feud between criminal gangs in the wake of some gangland killings in the district this year could have triggered demand for locally made explosives, machetes and swords.

In 2005, a six-year-old was injured when he accidentally set off a country bomb at Menamkulam, a neighbourhood near Kazhakuttom that has witnessed several gang-related killings. The child’s palm was injured when he toyed with the crude bomb which he found in the crevice of a rock formation.

In 2006, three children were injured when they were playing with a crude bomb that they found in a garbage dump near the sewage farm at Valiathura.

A 40-year-old farmer was seriously injured at Chittattumukku in Kazhakkuttom the same year when his spade struck a crude bomb that exploded. The police have recovered crude bombs from panchayat wells and even the top floor of a court complex in the district.