Two children killed in Colombia while playing with grenade

Two boys who found a hand grenade in a field behind their home in rural Colombia were killed when it exploded as they began playing with it, police said Saturday.

The boys, Nasa Indians aged 5 and 9, died immediately from the blast Friday night in the Andean mountains near the town of Toribio, 400 kilometers (250 miles) southwest of the capital, Bogota, said Col. Luis de Jesus Celi, police commander of Cauca state.

The mayor of Toribio, Arquimedes Vitonas, told The Associated Press by telephone that the boys were cousins and that the flying shrapnel also injured three of their relatives.

"These boys were just starting their life," said Alba Nuri Ipia, the mother of one of them, crying as she spoke to Caracol television.

The hand grenade was most likely left by Colombia's main rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Celi said.

The area is littered with ordnance left by the guerrillas, who have fought for 41 years to overthrow the Colombian government. They have controlled many roads and villages between main towns in the Toribio region, but army troops pushed them deeper into the jungle after pitched battles in April.

Land mines and discarded grenades have become a huge problem in Colombia, making the Andean nation the fourth in the world for victims of mine blasts, after Chechnya, Afghanistan and Cambodia.

The Washington-based International Campaign to Ban Land mines estimates there are 100,000 mines buried across the country. More than 600 people were killed or injured by mines here last year, AP reported.

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