Efforts to remove a 56kg 'cylinder' bomb from the Ghardebi section of the Gaur-Chandranighapur road in Rautahat have been surrounded by drama and controversy. The bomb was planted by Maoists over six months ago, and has since been sealed over, with vehicles driving over it every day. The road is still currently in use.
Following the peace talks, the Maoists contacted the CDO last week requesting a bulldozer be sent so they could remove the device. A bulldozer was provided, but the driver refused to proceed. Local Maoist district committee member Samir says they are willing to coordinate with the UN, INSEC, and the Nepal Army to do what is necessary. "We've removed devices from other locations, but because the road is sealed, we need a bulldozer. If we have one, we can remove it in ten minutes," he said.
However, mine and bomb risk expert Hugues Laurenge, who is currently working with UNICEF, as well as local INSEC representatives are strongly advising against this plan of action. "Because it's an improvised explosive device (IED), we don't know the lethal radius of this bomb, but we know it is huge. A bulldozer is not appropriate in this case; it needs proper risk assessment, and to be excavated with multiple precautions, which is very sensitive work. The device either needs to be removed and defused, or specific explosives need to be used to destroy or neutralise it on-site. All this is dangerous, and must be done by bomb disposal professionals," explains Laurenge. There are concerns that, as with all explosives, passing time-combined with climate, ground conditions, and the vibrations from vehicles will have made the device increasingly unstable.
In a similar case from monsoon 2006 in Dhukuri, Nuwakot, fragments of shrapnel were found in trees 2km away after a 50kg bomb being used by the armed police exploded; fortunately, the explosion happened at night, so there were no casualities. A standard socket bomb contains less than 100gm of explosive.(Jemima Sherpa)