Two people were killed and three seriously injured when a Russian-made artillery shell exploded in a blacksmith shop in the center of Siem Reap town last Friday, a military police official said Monday.
Brak Chanthoeun, Siem Reap deputy military police chief, said local blacksmith Bun On and customer Youk Saroeun were killed when the 130 mm Russian artillery shell detonated as it was being cut open in a workshop. The blacksmith was killed instantly, while Youk Saroeun died later in the hospital, he said.
The copper casings of artillery shells are highly prized by Cambodian blacksmiths who use the metal for motorcycle and automobile engine repairs.
“Khmer blacksmiths are very good at transforming bombs so they can be used as commodities,” said Brak Chanthoeun, adding that a follow-up police investigation found four more large artillery shells in the gutted workshop.
“They did not listen to CMAC (Cambodian Mine Action Center) warnings on TV and radio,” said Brak Chanthoeun.
The early morning explosion caused chaos in the busy tourist town, police said. In September 1998, residents were shaken by a rocket attack allegedly aimed at Prime Minister Hun Sen.