April 14, 1997
Mines Found Along Pope's Route
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Explosives planted along Pope John Paul II's route outside Sarajevo were rigged to be triggered by radio -- and would have devastated the area if they had been, U.N. workers said Monday.
The explosives were found over the weekend under a bridge northwest of Sarajevo, within hours of John Paul's arrival for a visit of peace and reconciliation.
There was no definitive word on who planted them or why, but the 330 pounds of explosives were clearly lethal -- plastic explosives wrapped around anti-tank mines.
The bomb ``would have blown the bridge away,'' U.N. spokesman Alexander Ivanko said.
``I wouldn't want to be anywhere within 300 meters (330 yards) of that device going off,'' U.N. police spokesman Liam McDowall said.
McDowall said local police found the explosives after being alerted by a citizen who had seen someone with a shovel in the area, although no digging seemed to have been involved in setting the explosives.
Ivanko called it worrisome that the explosives were detected through a tip from a local worker rather than by a police inspection of the pope's route.
John Paul left Sarajevo on Sunday evening, ending a 25-hour visit that he had first tried to make in 1994, when the Bosnian war was raging and Sarajevo was under siege by Bosnian Serbs.
Departing, he repeated his message, ``Never again war!''
The head of the Roman Catholic church in Sarajevo, Cardinal Vinko Puljic, said Monday he hoped the pope's message of reconciliation would take hold.
``I would be honestly full of joy if the pope's moral message would be built into Bosnia-Herzegovina ... and if on these foundations the building of Bosnia's future would start,'' he said.