Three children dead after East Timor blast

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Children throwing rocks have accidentally set off an exploded shell in an abandoned Indonesian military barracks in East Timor, leaving three of the boys dead and one injured, U.N. officials said Wednesday.

U.N. spokesman Refik Hodzic said four boys were playing in the former headquarters of Indonesia's security forces in the city of Baucau, 60 miles east of Dili, on Tuesday when they came upon the ordinance.

"The explosive appears to have been an artillery or mortar shell," he said. "The boys found it and then threw rocks at it until it detonated."

The deaths mark the first time anyone has been killed in East Timor by abandoned explosives since international peacekeepers landed in the former Indonesian province six months ago.

Indonesia's military pulled out of East Timor last November leaving many of their bases in ruins.

Hodzic said U.N. troops searched the Baucau barracks for other unexploded weapons but failed to find any. There were no plans yet to carry out similar searches of other former Indonesian bases throughout the territory, he added.

Hodzic said the origins of the ordinance was not known and that there were still unexploded shells throughout the half-island territory from World War II.

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