• Kyodo

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Japanese police and U.S. Air Force personnel on Saturday finished defusing four U.S. antitank rockets in the possession of a sergeant in the Air Self-Defense Force, police officials said. The sergeant died Sunday in an explosion in the city of Okinawa.

News photoNews photoA rocket (above), defused after being found at the home of a sergeant in the Air Self-
Defense Force, is displayed to the press Saturday in Na
ha. U.S. Air Force explosive experts (below) prepare a ro
bot to defuse other weap
ons.

In the afternoon, three officers from a U.S. Air Force explosives disposal team defused two 66-mm rockets found in a house rented by Senior Master Sgt. Takio Tamura, 53, in Naha.

Earlier in the day, the officers defused two other rockets discovered on the balcony of Tamura’s Naha apartment.

Five officers from the Okinawa Prefectural Police and three explosives disposal officers from the Self-Defense Forces monitored the operation, they said.

Some 400 people living close to the house were evacuated from their homes during the operation in the afternoon, while around 550 nearby residents were evacuated to a community center about 300 meters from Tamura’s apartment in the morning.

As well as the rockets, police have found a large number of weapons at the two locations, including 19 rocket launchers, an M-16 rifle, an M-1 carbine, some 670 live rounds and 20 grams of gunpowder.

The officials took special care in removing the rockets as they were buried under other weapons and military goods in the house, the officials said.

Tamura is believed to have stored his collection of weapons at the rented house after he ran out of space in his apartment. He died at a materials storage site in Okinawa when an antitank rocket exploded, police believe.