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Bomb de terre: WW1 grenade found in French potato shipment

A German World War I hand grenade was found among a shipment of French potatoes imported for a Hong Kong crisp factory, police said.

Bomb de terre: WW1 grenade found in French potato shipment
Photo: Hong Kong Police Force/AFP

The device was safely detonated after it was discovered at the Calbee snacks factory Saturday.

“The grenade was in an unstable condition because it has been previously discharged but failed to detonate,” Superintendent Wilfred Wong Ho-hon told reporters.

Police detonated it on site, Wong said, with a police video showing bomb disposal officers packing the grenade in a drainage channel at the factory before blowing it up.

The grenade was eight centimetres wide and weighed about one kilogram.

“All the information to date suggested that the grenade was imported from France together with the other potatoes,” Wong said.

The grenade is believed to have been left in a trench during World War I and accidentally gathered up with potatoes planted a century later in the former battlefield.

“If it was covered in mud, the grenade was likely to have been left behind, dropped by soldiers there during the war, or left there after it was thrown,” Hong Kong University military historian Dave Macri told the South China Morning Post.

“The ditch was then filled up and used as a growing field, and the explosive was tossed into the mix of harvested potatoes… and sent to Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong police are used to dealing with old munitions, though more usually US bombs dropped on the city after it fell to the invading Japanese during World War II.

Last year the bomb disposal squad defused three large WWII bombs, two of which were found at a site in the busy Wanchai district where work was underway to build a new metro railway station.

Unexploded wartime bombs or grenades are frequently found by hikers or construction workers in the southern Chinese city, which was the scene of fierce fighting between Japanese and British allied forces in 1941.

The then-British colony was heavily bombed by US and allied forces after the city fell to the Japanese imperial forces.

READ ALSO: French fishing trawler nets one tonne WWII bomb

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Lyon bomb suspect ‘had pledged allegiance to Islamic State’

An Algerian suspected of setting off a package bomb in southeast France last week has told investigators that he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State jihadist group, a judicial source said on Thursday.

Lyon bomb suspect 'had pledged allegiance to Islamic State'
Emergency services personal treat an injured woman after the bomb exploded in Lyon on Monday. Photo: Phillippe Desmazes/AFP
The 24-year-old man, identified as Mohamed Hichem M., was arrested on Monday after an extensive manhunt since Friday, when 13 people were wounded by the explosion on a busy pedestrian street in Lyon.
 
Sources close to the case said that after initially refusing to talk, the suspect admitted Wednesday to planting the bomb, packed with screws and ball bearings and a relatively small amount of acetone peroxide, or APEX.
   
It was the same volatile compound used in the deadly Paris terror attacks of November 13, 2015 and other incidents since which have claimed the lives of more than 250 people.
   
The Islamic State group has been behind several of the attacks, although police had said earlier that no one had claimed the Lyon blast.
   
The suspect's brother, who was also arrested and questioned by anti-terror investigators in Paris, and his parents were released from custody on Thursday “in the absence, at this stage, of anything incriminating them,” the Paris prosecutors' office said.
   
A search of the man's home had already turned up “elements likely to be used for making APEX,” one source told AFP, and searches of his computers pointed to internet searches related to jihadism and bomb-building.
   
Thirteen people were wounded in the blast — eight women, four men and a 10-year-old girl.
 
The package was placed in front of a bakery near the corner of two crowded pedestrian streets in the historic heart of Lyon at around 17:30 pm last Friday.
   
Video surveillance cameras led police to identify the man after he fled the scene on a bicycle.
   
He was arrested while getting off a bus in a suburb just south of the city.
 
Lyon Mayor Gerard Collomb said this week that the suspect had not been known to the police.
 
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