The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force removed a 294 kilogram unexploded bomb from the Taro airstrip in Choiseul Province this week.
The legacy left behind by World War II still poses threats to the lives of Solomon Islanders. In August, 13 live bombs were found on the runway strip area of Taro airport.
Deputy Commissioner National Security and Operation Support Ian Vaevaso said the bomb is from the United States and was used during World War II in the Solomon Islands.
Mr Vaevaso said another small bomb was also removed from the same location and his team was working close with the provincial government for the safe disposal of those bombs.
“I appeal to the communities in Taro Township to work together with the team on the ground during render safe. This will help to avoid any casualties during the operation,” he said.
“Since the Taro Township was under category A alert, we must be careful and report any suspicious materials lying in your area to the EOD team while they are still in Taro or report it to Taro police.”
The people in the area have been told not to light fires in the open. The last death due to accidental explosion of a bomb in the Solomon Islands was in May 2021, when a local civil engineer and an accountant were killed.
In the most recent discovery, a group of young people had built a fire to cook food on the open ground in a private residential area without realising that there was a buried bomb underground.
According to reports, it was an American 105mm high explosive projectile, the type fired by artillery. The Solomon Islands campaign during World War II lasted over a year and over 24,000 Japanese and 1,600 U.S. soldiers lost their lives.
When the war ended in 1945, foreign military forces left behind sunken ships, burnt tanks, abandoned stockpiles of weapons and ammunition, large empty gun emplacements, and unexploded ordinance.
During the Solomon Islands’ civil war, from 1998 to 2003, combatants made use of many abandoned weapons, which served as a ready source of deadly arms.
Reports and studies done on the World War II explosives have shown that farmers and fishers continue to discover the explosives.
A report called Solomon Islands Explosive Legacy also mentioned that teenagers and children also encounter live bombs.
This week the Solomon Islands police will conduct a campaign on unexploded ordnance commencing with schools and then to the general public.
The Choiseul Province has agreed to take immediate steps and actions to move the bombs to a safer location and to carry out public awareness.
People in Taro and Supizae have been advised not to burn rubbish in their gardens or areas given that the likelihood of explosions is high.