Nearly 2,000 decomposing rocket-propelled grenades were cleared from an underground bunker in Kandal province after the property’s owner was alerted to the weapons cache by long-time villagers and hired an excavator to dig it up, police said on Tuesday.
Buried 2 meters below ground, the concrete room was found to be holding 1,800 unexploded rockets, commune police chief Sin Savet said.
They were uncovered on Sunday in Takhmao City’s Prek Russei commune and collected by the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) on Monday, he said.
“After the property owner found out his property had an ammunition warehouse, he reported to CMAC because he felt scared that it could explode and cause injury,” Mr. Savet said.
“Those rocket-propelled grenades were buried a long time already and were black like charcoal,” he said.
The ordnance may have been buried before or during the Lon Nol regime, he added.
Sim Buth Bundith, Takhmao City police chief, also said the rockets might have been underground since the 1970s.
“Those rockets are too old and the quality is unusable. They can just take them to destroy them,” he said.
CMAC director Heng Ratana could not be reached on Tuesday, but in a Facebook post on Monday, he suggested that the stash—including 81mm, 82mm, 60mm and B40 rockets—may have been moved to the site before the 1997 factional fighting between forces loyal to the CPP and Funcinpec.
“This ammunition may have been buried before the July 5 to 6, 1997 fighting. This is the way of moving and hiding the ammunition close to the target battlefield,” he said.
© 2017, Buth Kimsay. All rights reserved.