Four Caught With 200 Lon Nol-Era Artillery Shells

Four people were arrested Mon­day night for possession of 200 artillery shells, which were apparently destined for a scrap dealer in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district, Interior Ministry Penal Police Chief Mok Chito said.

Police apprehended RCAF soldier Lor Phirum, 38, Chhin To, 17, Nath Knat, 26, and Yong Cham­roeun, also 26, while they were driving a vehicle in Chroy Changva commune with the 105-millimeter shells on board, Mok Chito said Wednesday.

Mok Chito said the shells were recovered from a barge that sank in the Mekong River during Lon Nol’s 1970s regime in Kandal province’s Lvea Em district.

“I don’t think they were going to use [the shells] for terrorism purposes,” Mok Chito said, adding that he did not know when the four would be sent to court for questioning.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sop­heak said the four are being held at his ministry.

“They wanted to sell the [shells] as scrap metal,” he said.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the shells would be destroyed, adding that the group did not pose a threat to security.

Pich Saroeun, Chroy Changva commune chief, said locals saw the four suspects carrying the shells in a boat on the Mekong.

“We received information from the villagers, so we informed the police,” he said.

Pich Saroeun said police suspect the case is related to an additional 1,800 shells, without explosive char­ges, found in the possession of a Russei Keo district scavenger.

Khem Sophoan, Cambodian Mine Action Center director general, said police had already handed over the 2,000 shells. Some of the shells will be destroyed while others may be used by CMAC for de-mining purposes, he said.

“These [shells] are from Lon Nol’s regime. They were taken not for any purpose except scrap,” he added.


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