SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ An explosion killed three children who strayed into a minefield, police said today, including an 11-year old girl who screamed for help for hours as would-be rescuers watched, too fearful to go after her.

Police identified the victims as Ema Alic, 11, Goran Biscevic, 12, and Haris Balicevac, 12. They died Monday after venturing into a minefield outside the capital.

Millions of land mines are strewn across Bosnia as a result of the 1992-1995 Bosnia war. Mine explosions kill and injure dozens of people every month, and minefields make stretches of land unusable.

Residents said the fact that the area was mined was common knowledge and signs warned of danger. Still, the field was not roped off, apparently because of lack of money.

Eyewitnesses said Ema was still alive after the explosion and that she screamed for help for hours before falling still.

Nenad Krestalica, who witnessed the explosion, said the force of the blast sent ``the body of one child through the air.''

``I also heard the crying voice,'' said Krestalica, 67, still visibly upset a day after the deaths. ``For two hours, the girl was showing signs of life, waved with her little hand and called for help. Then she went quiet.''

His wife, Stana, 60, said she doing garden work when she heard the explosion.

``We all started running. We heard a child's voice screaming for help,'' she told a reporter. ``We called the police and they came, but nobody could approach the children.''

Residents gathered around the minefield but could only watch the tragedy a few hundred yards away.

Police, NATO-led peacekeeping troops in Bosnia and a demining team arrived soon after the blast. But it took six hours to demine a path to the children. By then, all three were dead.