Land Mine Explosions in Pailin, B Meanchey Kill 3, Injure 10

Over the weekend, land mine explosions in Pailin and Banteay Mean­chey pro­vinces killed two adults and a 13-year-old girl, and left 10 others injured, including an RCAF soldier, police and army officials said yesterday.

An anti-tank mine detonated in Pai­lin province’s Sala Krao district on Sat­urday, killing Van Choeur, 13, Chet Ien, 22, and Chea Chek, 25, and injuring nine others, police said yesterday.

Sala Krao district police chief Korm Vuthikun said the blast occurred as Mr Ien drove 11 workers to a plantation on his homemade tractor. The nine injured workers were sent to a provincial referral hospital, he said.

“We have to teach the villagers to be more careful,” Mr Vuthikun said, adding that the risk posed by deeply buried anti-tank land mines grows in the wet season as damp earth gives way under heavy vehicles.

In Banteay Meanchey province, an anti-personnel mine blew off the leg of an RCAF soldier from Border Protection Battalion 503 in O’Chrou district’s O’Beichoan commune on Sunday, Lieutenant Colo­nel Dok Savuth said yesterday.

Lt Col Savuth said Pol Hou, the de­puty commander of his unit, lost his leg below the knee when he “stepped into the minefield to urinate” and is being treated at a military hospital in Battam­bang.

Ang Seila Khmer village chief Yim Pao said Sunday’s explosion marked the second time in 2010 someone entered the field with disastrous consequences—several villagers who crossed the minefield to cut trees were injured in January.

Heng Ratana, director-general of the Cambo­dia Mine Action Center, said yesterday that a team from his organization had been dispatched to survey the explosion site in Pailin, but that CMAC “lacked the resources to clear the entire area.”

Cameron Imber, desk officer at the British demining organization Halo Trust, which works in Pailin, said less than 1 percent of the mines removed by Halo were anti-tank mines, though such mines were responsible for about 30 percent of mine related injuries.

According to Mr Imber, clearing anti-tank mines is particularly difficult because they are planted in less recognizable patterns than anti-personnel mines.

      (Additional reporting by Andrew Burmon)

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