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Explosion kills Self Defense Force First Sergeant

Date Posted: 2003-09-06

An explosion of what the police believe was an old artillery grenade Saturday killed a 53-year-old Japanese Self Defense Air Force 1st Sergeant in Ikehara, Okinawa City. The sergeant died instantly after the explosion occurred in a junkyard warehouse. The explosion caused no other damage.

Police are trying to determine how the unexploded ordnance had come to the sergeantís possession. The Okinawa Prefecture Police and Okinawa City Police have set up a special task force to investigate. The investigators reportedly found several American military-type bullets and 28 grenades in the dead manís car, which was parked at the junkyard. They want to know where they originally came from, and want answers about other military hardware that was found.

The dead soldier was reportedly an avid collector of military-related items. He was also regularly selling his wares at Chibana flea market on weekends. The police had arrested him once on suspicion of illegal possession of gunpowder. However, prosecutors decided not to indict him.

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