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Originally published:  01/07/2010
Those pesky kids….
Something of an explosive theme to this month’s stories. We begin in the quiet lanes of Oxfordshire, UK, where a 62-year-old retired colonel (and former mayor) was questioned last month by police. They arrested John Gillman on suspicion of having left a bucket containing an explosive powder in the old concrete pill-box in the market town of Faringdon.
Two schoolboys suffered second degree burns to their arms and faces when they stubbed out cigarettes in the bucket. Apparently the World War II-era bunker is a popular hang-out for the under-age drinkers and smokers of the town and Gillman had reportedly complained before about “pesky children causing trouble”.
Gillman’s friends said he had been at the pill-box cleaning off graffiti and may have inadvertently left some turpentine or paint stripper in the bucket. However, police confirmed there was an “incendiary powder”, possibly from fireworks, in the bucket. The investigation continues….
Fingered for the crime
Meanwhile, in London, Ontario police were called to look for a man who bought a large amount of ammonium nitrate from a farm store but who failed to produce the identification required by law. The Mounties and counterterrorism officers were drafted in to take up the case.
The man, described as being white and in his 40s, was thought to be a farmer. He also had a number of missing fingers and police suspect the lack of digits indicates he has spent some time perfecting his bomb-making techniques.
Sweatier the better
This sort of thing can happen to anybody, though. No, really… Consider the case of one 18-year-old of Bolton, Lancashire, who ended up in hospital in May. He was one of three guys picking up supplies from the B&Q hardware store; probably wanting to improve the air quality after being stuck in a van with two other sweaty labourers, he decided to spray some air freshener around. Then he lit a cigarette.
The resulting explosion gave him serious burns to his legs, arms and face, although the van itself was not badly damaged.
Real men don’t carry bags
Our next miscreant looks likely to end up the same way. The Tianfu Morning Post of Chengdu in Sichuan province, China, reported last month on the case of a man who was injured when his handbag exploded as he was getting off a bus from Yunnan. Police said his bag must have contained about 500 grams of explosives, probably for use in making fireworks.
The other passengers of the crowded bus escaped injury, although they were very fortunate. One said that the man had repeatedly asked the driver to let him off once the bus arrived in Chengdu but the driver refused. The bag exploded the moment he got off the bus, the witness said, causing serious injuries to his left arm and other wounds.
Know your onions
Another one wishing he’d been a little more careful is one Yaya Sukthongsa of Banglamung, Thailand, who managed to demolish his own house last month. Police called to the scene found Yaya and three other people, including his daughter, badly injured, and materials that they thought could be used to make bombs and explosives.
The bomb squad was called in from Sattahip. Officers confirmed that Yaya had been making fireworks and that the blast had happened after dynamite had been erroneously used in the mixture. Police are now investigating whether the landlord had a licence for explosives manufacture but, as the house was close to a school and a mosque, that would seem unlikely.