Abandoned WWII ammunition still turning up


Fireworks will be going off around the world in just a few days' time. But here in the Czech Republic there are also fears of explosions of a very different kind. No, this time we're not talking about the war on terror, but bombs and other ammunition left over from the Second World War and the time of the communist regime. Old ammunition keeps turning up and is causing a good few headaches.

If you happen to be a fan of old ammunition in the Czech Republic, you don't necessarily have to go to a museum. Fifty-nine years after the end of the Second World War and nearly fifteen years since the departure of the Soviet Army, there is still a big chance that you will come across old ammunition of some kind in a wood, a field or a pond, leftover from one or the other army. Milan Kollar from the bomb-disposal department of Czech police:

"It happens at least once a week that our people have to dispose of some old munitions. The very last case was in Central Bohemia, where a few shells were found by locals. But as soon as the disposal experts got down to their work they found out that a local pond was basically full of old ammunition. There were several tons of it. Most likely it was thrown in there by one of the armies after the Second World War."

Heavy battles for the liberation of Brno and Ostrava, two big cities in south and north Moravia, left these parts of the Czech Republic with a lot of unexploded ammunition. Last year 226 artillery shells were found in south Moravia, 187 in north Moravia, as well as 413 mines. The borders in this part are more or less the same as they were during the Second World War, so weapons of both the German Wehrmacht and the Red Army are common. Robert Mlejnek head of Czech police's ammunitions department.

"In the past the ammunition was left at various levels. The soil moves and shifts the old ammunition around. So it very often rises to the surface. I am not aware of any systematic attempts to get rid of old shells or bombs after the Second World War. I am sure that there is a lot of ammunition left and we will find much more in the future. It is an endless story."

The latest discovery was by the police, who found out that locals from a village near Caslav had dug up old ammunition and had decided to keep it for themselves. The search lasted a month and bomb disposal teams found a rich horde of Second World War munitions.