German School Damaged by Rounds
May. 09, 2001
%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:%)
BERLIN (AP) _ The U.S. Army admitted Wednesday that it had misfired two training rounds, which hit and slightly damaged the roof of a southern German elementary school where children were playing in the yard.
Classes were over for the day Tuesday when the rounds hit in the town of Kirchenthumbach, said Mayor Johann Kleber, and no one was injured. The town is a half-mile from the edge of the Army's largest European training range at Grafenwoehr.
The Army apologized for the incident and launched an investigation.
``This is really a rare incident, and it's bad,'' said Capt. Jeff Settle, public affairs officer for the 7th Army Training Command. ``That it hit a school, of all things, is terrible.''
The incident occurred during live-fire training. The rounds involved were 25 mm aluminum training rounds.
``They were not high explosive, they were not depleted uranium,'' Settle said.
It remained unclear Wednesday how the accident occurred, Settle said. But the rounds, fired about two miles from the school, ``went in the wrong direction.''
``It's the first time I know of that there's been a misfire by the U.S. Army,'' Kleber said. ``It's in the interests of both sides to clear this up'' and discuss ways to prevent future accidents.
Although relations between the Army and town residents remain predominantly good, there is growing concern about military safety standards. It was revealed last year that depleted uranium rounds _ which is alleged to have caused illness among several former soldiers serving as peacekeepers in the Balkans _ had been fired at the training grounds.