5 Men Killed While Demining Land for Casino

Five men were killed and another critically injured while demining land for a casino owned by CPP ty­coon Senator Ly Yong Phat in Od­dar Meanchey province’s O’Smach district on Tuesday morning, officials said Wednesday.

Three RCAF demining engineers from military Region 4, who had been hired to clear mines from land be­longing to the O’Smach Ca­sino Re­sort, died along with two hir­ed hands while clearing brush, said RCAF Region 4 commander So Na­ra. A sixth man was gravely wounded when the two anti-tank mines the soldiers were trying to re­move, which were stacked on top of each other, exploded, So Nara said.

“The families of those killed will re­ceive compensation from Ly Yong Phat’s O’Smach Casino Re­sort, according to an agreement with the company,” said So Nara.

O’Smach district Military Police Commander Puth Sarann said Wed­nesday that the men killed were Oeun Yen, 46, Laom Sarun, 36, You Yen, 34, Chan So, 30, and Pen Chek, 32. Heng Sam Ol, 35, was sent to Thailand for medical treatment, he said.

“The anti-tank mines exploded about 400 or 500 meters from Ca­sino O’Smach Resort because the com­pany wanted to develop the area as a park, with a waterfall near a pond with clean water,” he added.

Neither Ly Yong Phat nor one of his assistants could be reached for comment.

Khmer Rouge forces planted the mines in such a way as to make re­moving them especially dangerous, Puth Sarann said.

“Five people died on the spot. Two of the victims’ bodies cannot be found but three others have been identified,” Bech Sokhen said.

Khem Sophoan, director-general of the Cambodian Mine Action Cen­ter, said that his organization had heard that the soldiers had not followed proper procedures.

He added that private businesses should not use soldiers for demining. “If they needed to demine their land, there are private companies to do [it] for them,” he said.

            (Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)


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