Mine and Ordnance Casualties Up This Year, Figures Show

Landmines and other ordnance killed or injured 40 people during the first two months of the year, according to the latest figures from the government’s Cambodian Mine Action Authority.

This year’s tally is nearly twice the number of casualties from old mines and ordnance during the same period last year.

According to the report, the 40 casualties included six deaths, eight amputations and 26 people who suffered other injuries.

Heng Ratana, director-general of the government’s Cambodian Mine Action Center, which does most of the demining in the county, said the casualties have gone up this year because most of the explosions occurred near groups of people rather than individuals.

“For example, in Kompong Chhnang and Battambang [pro­vinces] large groups of people were involved in the explosions, and that brings the number up,” he said.

Despite the rise in casualties, the number of individual explosions actually fell slightly from 24 during the first two months of last year to 22 so far this year.

In one particularly deadly case, three children aged eight to 12 died in Kompong Chhnang province in late January when a mortar shell they discovered exploded.

On Friday, two men were seriously injured in Battambang province when an anti-tank mine exploded beneath them while they were plowing their farm.

More than 64,000 Cambodians have been killed or injured by leftover mines and ordnance since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, according to the Mine Action Authority.

The number of casualties per year has been falling steadily, however, and dropped to 111 last year, the lowest annual figure on record.

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