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Bombs found under Pope's stage

Six bombs and two unexploded mortar shells from World War II have been found under a stage where Pope John Paul II is due to celebrate mass during his visit to Bosnia next month.

"We found six bombs and two mortar shells buried just under the stage that was built for the pope", Dusko Anikic, head of the civil defence team said.

He would not rule out that more bombs or shells could be detected.

Anikic said that German troops during World War II used the yard of Banja Luka's Petricevac Catholic monastery for ammunition storage, which they left behind after their pull-out in 1945.

Lack of information on how much ammunition the Germans left behind makes it more difficult to clear the area around the site where John Paul II is to celebrate mass, he said.

During his one-day visit on 22 June, the pope is to beatify 20th-century theologian Ivan Merz at a ceremony expected to be attended by up to 150,000 people.

According to the Mine Action Centre, more than 4% of Bosnia's terrority is still strewn with mines laid during the former Yugoslav republic's 1992-95 war, but there are no figures for World War II explosives.

The Pope, who visited the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo in 1997, is also due to visit the former Yugoslav republic of Croatia at the end of next week.

The Australian

Visit to Croatia:
Papal Visit to Croatia - Official Site
Apostolic Journey to Croatia, 5 - 9 June 2003 (Vatican website)
Croatians see papal trip No. 100 as special honor from fellow Slav (Catholic News Service)
Croatia Prepares for Papal Visit: John Paul II's 100th Apostolic Journey (Zenit)

30 May 2003