MND-SE Harvest goes on
Lt. Pedro Fernández Vicente
First published in
SFOR Informer#139, May 23, 2002
The Spanish Battle Group (SPBG) seized 60 tonnes of ammunition,
May 9-12. The ammo was found in a hidden basement in "Fabrika
Duhana Mostar" and at UNIS factory. Multinational Division
Southeast (MND-SE) ordered SPBG to localise, seize and transport
all the ammo that was found in the cellars of the Tobacco
Mostar - After contacting civilian authorities, local police
and International Police Task Force (IPTF), the "Lepanto"
Tactic Group and the "Taxdirt" Cavalry Squadron
began "Cordoba Operation" by isolating a zone surrounding
the recently discovered ammunition cache. After the zone was
cleared and a safety area established, two Explosive Ordnance
Disposal (EOD) teams belonging to Engineer Regiment No. 12,
and Sapper Unit X, conducted a thorough search of the area
looking for booby traps and other hazards to ensure that there
was no risk. At first it seemed as if there was nothing but
after pulling down a false wall the teams found the first
216 boxes of ammo in a perfect state of conservation. From
this room a door led to another depot where 2,294 new 120-mm
mortal shell boxes were found. In total 5,020 grenades were
seized making this discovery the largest ammo cache that has
been confiscated in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) so far.
"According to our sources we know that up to 4,000 other
120-mm mortar shells still remain hidden in the Mostar region,"
said Maj. Gen. Maurice Amarger, Commanding General of MND-SE,
during a press conference May 15. "It is totally irresponsible
for the people to live with this permanent threat in their
surroundings. I will say that so far we have worked in total
co-operation with your national local authorities. The Federal
Ministry of Defence is working at its level to collect necessary
information that would lead us to the discovery of the caches
as it was done for the Tobacco Factory. I know that there
are people with enough common sense to act in the right direction.
I will again strongly urge all people having knowledge of
illegal weapons or ammunition hiding places to report to SFOR
units. Information will be handled with complete confidentiality."
Amarger pointed to a map highlighting the consequences if
the 4,000 shells in the Tobacco Factory were to accidentally
explode. The explosion spot itself would be a crater 100 metres
in diameter. The depth of the crater would be between 15 and
20 meters. The death-zone would extend from this spot and
500 metres. In this area any unprotected persons would be
killed and the surrounding buildings seriously damaged by
the effects of the blast.
The mass destruction zone would extend between 500 and 1,000
metres. Eighty percent of unprotected persons would be injured,
and projectiles would damage 50 percent of the buildings.
Lastly there is the high danger zone. This area extends between
1,000 metres and 2,000 metres. Fifty percent of unprotected
persons would be injured and 50 percent of the buildings would
be damaged. All windows would be broken.
The projectile range limit for the last zone reaches up to
4,000 meters. People in this area could be injured or killed
by pieces of shrapnel or projectiles.
"It is really beyond common sense to have this type of
ammunition in illegal dumps in Mostar," concluded Amarger.
"The fact is that Mostar would suffer more than it suffered
during the war. It is up to you all, to the citizens of this
country to understand that they cannot live with this type
of illegal dump."
Nations of SFOR: Spain