NEWS

Mine kills two army experts

Two army mine disposal experts were killed yesterday while trying to deactivate an old mine near the Greek-Bulgarian border. The army general staff ordered an inquiry to determine how the accident occurred. Capt. Theodoros Haralambous, 43, of Serres and Sgt. Nikos Hadzinikolopoulos, 30, of Thassos lost their lives while clearing a mine field in the foothills of Mt. Belles in the region of Petritsi near Serres. They were setting off controlled explosions when one of the mines exploded unexpectedly and they were hit by shrapnel. There are mine fields on the Greek-Bulgarian border dating from World War II, and the Cold War. With the collapse of communism the countries signed an agreement on clearing their borders. There are mine fields on the Greek-Turkish border that have claimed the lives of many illegal immigrants. Stathopoulos, who has borne the brunt of the government’s dispute with the Church of Greece in scrapping the mention of religion from identity cards, said that some reports that EU countries were thinking of placing religious affiliation on ID cards was just wishful thinking. I don’t think anyone in the EU wants this, he said.