Clown Steps on Landmine (But Not Really)

News readers around the world were told over the weekend of a freak accident in which a prankster dressed as a clown stepped on an unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Oddar Meanchey province’s Samraong City.

Some news outlets called it the first fatality in a global clown craze that began in the U.S. in August. But the bizarre incident, first reported on the Times of Cambodia website, never happened, according to local officials.

“It didn’t happen. I absolutely deny the information,” provincial police chief Men Ly said on Sunday.

Samraong City governor Un Sopheak echoed Mr. Ly, adding that such a dramatic event could not have occurred without notice.

“If there had been an explosion, I would have known about it,” he said.

An article dated Wednesday and posted on the newly created Times of Cambodia website says a university student from Los Angeles was visiting relatives in Samraong City and decided to head out at 9 p.m. last Sunday to scare villagers with a clown costume and a machete.

“The man is alleged to have been chased by a group of frightened locals into the jungle, where he stumbled over a landmine and was killed in the ensuing blast,” said the article, which was picked up by The Daily Mirror, one of the U.K.’s largest tabloids.

Various media outlets continued to propel the story over the weekend, and it even gained traction on Reddit, a discussion forum that bills itself as “the front page of the internet.”

Tales of clowns scaring citizens across the globe—and being hunted in return—have been widespread in recent months, with some retailers discontinuing the sale of clown costumes.

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