Two brothers were killed and their friend was seriously injured on Sunday when unexploded ordnance (UXO) they were playing with exploded in a Tbong Khmum province cassava plantation, officials said on Monday.
Art Sat, 13, his brother Art Seyha, 6, and their friend Phang Phany, 14, were playing in Memot district’s Choam commune at about 8:30 a.m. when they spotted the UXO in a field, said Long Thavrin, deputy chief of the district police’s judicial bureau.
“The father was plowing the farmland and it caused the UXO to be unearthed and he didn’t notice it. Then when his sons came to play in the area, they picked up the UXO and tossed it on the ground,” causing it to explode, Mr. Thavrin said.
“The two siblings died immediately at the scene, and a villager’s child was seriously injured,” he said.
The injured boy was rushed to a hospital in Vietnam by his parents before police arrived, he said, adding that authorities did not know the type of UXO or from when it originated.
Commune chief Prak Vanny said the area was still full of unexploded bombs and other ordnance left behind during the Second Indochina War and civil war in the 1970s.
“My area is the land of war…. There are still many UXO remaining underground,” he said, recalling a similar incident that occurred only 100 meters from the scene in 2003, when three young boys died playing with UXO they had found while tending to cows.
He said the government’s Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) and demining organization Halo Trust had both conducted surveys of the area but had yet to begin clearing it of war remnants.
According to the latest CMAC figures, mines have caused 19 injuries and deaths, while other UXO have caused 25 casualties across the country in the first five months of the year, compared to 30 and 81 casualties, respectively, in the entirety of 2015.