As Indo-Pak tensions flare, a Kashmiri child mistakes a bomb for a toy

Device was cluster bomb which releases many smaller bomblets that can kill people over wider area, says Pakistan Army

Reuters August 11, 2019
Relative displays picture of 4-year-old Mohammad Ayan Ali, who, found a device that looked like a toy and exploded in his hands at home. PHOTO: REUTERS

JABRI: Deep in the mountains of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Neelum Valley in the small village of Jabri last month Indian artillery shells hit the village and an unexploded device found its way into the hands of four-year-old Ayan Ali.

“He found a bomb that looked like a toy and he brought it here,” said Ali’s uncle, Abdul Qayyum, pointing to their home.

Ali showed the “toy” to his siblings as the family sat down to breakfast which exploded and martyred Ali and wounding eight of his siblings, his mother and a young cousin.

“They tried to snatch it from him and then it exploded. He died on the spot,” Qayyum said, adding that two of the children are in hospital in critical condition.

According to Pakistan Army, the device was a cluster bomb, a weapon that releases many smaller bomblets that can kill or wound people over a wider area. They are prohibited under the Geneva Convention governing international warfare.

On a visit to the Jabri area on Friday, a Reuters journalist witnessed signs of damage in the home. A small crater in the concrete floor marked the place where Ali was standing when the device exploded.

“The little kids were playing and then there was a loud sound. There was smoke everywhere, I couldn’t see anything,” said Sadaf Siddiq, Ali’s older sister.

A shell hit another nearby home, opening a large hole in the roof but nobody inside was injured, said its 37-year-old owner Muhammad Hanif.

Tensions increased this week after India set a new policy to revoke Occupied Jammu and Kashmir state’s rights to set its own laws, arrested hundreds of political leaders and activists, and severed nearly all communications from the disputed valley.

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