Two women were injured in a blast that took place on Tuesday, November 8, in Javorina, a former military training area located in forested land near Levoča (Prešov Region), Defence Minister Ľubomír Galko told a press conference in Bratislava. The women, who are forest workers, suffered multiple but non-life-threatening injuries when they detonated what is believed to have been a grenade.
Galko stressed that the former training zone has not been owned by the state for 15 years, following its return to its original private owners. The area was searched for ammunition in 2006 but, Galko said, it is difficult to find everything in an area covering 32,000 hectares, particularly if materials have been left underground.
Responding to a question about whether, following this incident, he still intended to pursue his proposal to allow citizens to enter 'live' military training zones in Záhorie in the far west of Slovakia, Galko said that even now around 14,000 people have been given permits to enter it, so he saw no reason to prevent anyone from entering, provided they behave responsibly. However, he stressed that lighting a fire in such areas cannot be regarded as responsible behaviour, referring to the fact that Tuesday’s blast occurred after forest workers collected branches and set them alight.
The cabinet is to decide on Wednesday whether to open military forests to the public, the Sme daily wrote. A law that opens up the forests was one of the conditions Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) set for continuing to support the ruling coalition after the fall of the government in October. The army returned the forest in Javorina to its owners in 1997 and it was not part of the area into which members of the public were admitted at the beginning of this year.
The Slovak armed forces returned to Javorina to decommission old ammunition there in 2005-2006, Sme reported. The state spent €4 million for the purpose but only eight hectares were swept, out of almost 32,000. Neither of the subsequent governments continued the clean-up due to a lack of money, the daily wrote.
Sources: TASR, Sme
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
9. Nov 2011 at 14:00