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A small chunk of metal, believed to have been fired from a homemade pipe mortar last Thursday, was found on the lawn of a home on Atsugi Naval Air Facility in Japan on Saturday, base officials report.

The projectile apparently was one of two shot into the base from a wooded area near the main gate at about 10:34 p.m. Thursday. Kanagawa prefectural police found two metal pipes in bushes near Kitanodai Elementary School, about a half-mile northwest of the base.

A group of Japanese leftists has claimed responsibility for the attack, police said Monday.

In a letter to the Japanese media, the Revolutionary Workers Association claimed it had fired projectiles at Atsugi Naval Air Facility to protest the U.S.-led war in Iraq, said Tsuneo Kosuge, a police spokesman.

The projectile was found Saturday by Japanese police assigned to search the base following the incident. “They found a metal ball about the size of your fist in an open area behind some housing units on base,” said Brian Naranjo, spokesman for Atsugi. “It didn’t appear to hit anything.”

Japanese police, who are in charge of the investigation, retained the projectile, said Naranjo.

“We are cooperating fully with them,” he said. “We had people out there searching the base along with the Japanese police and we are continuing to look for the second ball.”

The metal pipes, found near the school, were similar to launching devices used March 12 in an apparent attack on Yokota Air Base and a November incident at the U.S. Army base at Camp Zama, according to police. No other details concerning the devices were released.

So far, no injuries or damage to property have been reported in any of the incidents.

Hana Kusumoto and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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