A 7-year-old girl was killed and two men injured by an explosive device Tuesday in Pursat province’s Phnom Kravanh district, according to police.
The girl, Oem Vanda, died from her injuries Wednesday at Pursat Referral Hospital, said Khun Chhat, deputy police chief in Santre commune. Sun Rath, 37, who was handling the device, lost both hands, both eyes and sustained injuries to his entire body, Khun Chhat said.
The child’s father, Ouk Choeu, also sustained minor injuries, district deputy police chief So Sarhong said.
Sun Rath found the device, identified as either a PMN-2 landmine or a 60-mm rocket, in a forest about 20 km from his village of Sre Porpeay, So Sarhong said. Sun Rath did not inform authorities of his find, but instead he took it back to his village and kept it at his house, intending to use it as an improvised explosive device to kill fish.
He brought it to his neighbor Ouk Choeu’s house Tuesday and started tampering with it while the 7-year-old girl watched and Ouk Choeu stood 3 meters away.
“He was careless. He shouldn’t improvise because it is too dangerous. He knew how dangerous it was…but he wanted to get personal profit from it,” So Sarhong said.
Heng Ratana, deputy director-general of the Cambodian Mine Action Center, said he sees a few cases every year of people maimed while attempting to use landmines or unexploded ordnance for alternative purposes, such as fishing. They are often former military personnel who think they have sufficient expertise to neutralize the devices, he added.
“When a mine becomes old and they pick it up from the ground and they do not have any skills or tools to conduct a neutralization technique, it becomes a very dangerous position for them to [be in],” he said, adding age and erosion made the explosives unstable.
From January to October 2008, 227 people have been killed or wounded by landmines and unexploded ordnance in Cambodia, he added.
(Additional reporting by Isabelle Roughol)