Plenty of ammunition for the Dutch
2Lt. Melanie Roodenburg
First published in
SFOR Informer#154, December 19, 2002
While relocating a drainage pipe, local workers discovered
an illegal ammunition cache. They were digging a pipeline
at a tunnel near Bugojno, when they found an ammunition box.
The Civil Protection Agency made a call to the Explosive Ordnance
Disposal (EOD) unit of the 17th (Netherlands) Mechanized Battalion
Guard Fusiliers Princess Irene (GFPI). The EOD was asked to
remove the ammunition found at the location.
Bugojno - The seizure was huge. An enormous amount of live
ammunition was found in the cache. Large quantities of small
calibre ammunition and hand grenades were found. In total,
more than 70,000 rounds and 2,000 hand grenades have been
recovered. In comparison, around 25 grenades are normally
handed over or collected in a week.
Much time has been invested in the disposal of the live ammunition.
Due to the fact that the ammunition could have been booby
trapped, the EOD worked very cautiously.
The disposal of the illegal ammunition cache has been an international
effort. In co-operation with local police, the road was blocked
off for half an hour at a time so the EOD unit could work
uninterrupted. The obstruction of traffic was kept to a minimum.
The ammunition site was partly covered by a path 10 metres
away from the main road from Bugojno to Kupres.
Members of the Romanian transportation platoon took care of
the transport of the ammunition to Bugojno. The five Dutchmen
from the 17th Mechanized Battalion EOD had a mine clearing
and co-ordinating role in the operation. Two interpreters
from the battalion assisted in cordoning off the site and
ensuring co-operation with the police.
All in a day's work
It took 24 hours to completely clear the cache. "Work
took place during daylight. We arrived at the scene on Thursday
at half past three. That left an hour and a half before it
got dark. So at night the site was guarded by the Alfa-team
and the following morning we continued our work," said
Capt. Mario van Hassel, head of the EOD detachment. By Friday,
at half past three, everything was cleared and the last of
the ammunition boxes were on their way to Bugojno. These will
be destroyed at a later date by the EOD.
Related links: SFOR
Nations of SFOR: Netherlands