Teenager Has Legs Amputated Following Landmine Explosion

A 19-year-old farmer from Pailin province’s Sala Krao district lost both legs when he stepped on a Bulgarian-made landmine Monday while looking for wild vegetables, local police officials said.

The victim had been picking bamboo shoots with his mother when he stepped on an antipersonnel mine, according to deputy provincial police chief Bou Sarin. He was taken to Battambang Provincial Hospital, where his legs were amputated above the knees.

“He stepped on an antipersonnel mine that ripped both his legs off,” Mr. Sarin said, adding that there are signs warning of mines in the area.

“There are many mines buried in the ground and CMAC [Cambodian Mine Action Center] has posted danger signs, but our villagers are still hunting for wildlife or looking for vegetables on the Dos Kramom mountain,” he said.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana said that villagers frequently ignored warning signs.

“They ignore the signs either because it’s a shortcut for traveling or because there is economic pressure, so they take the risk,” Mr. Ratana said, adding that not all contaminated areas had warning signs.

“We know of most areas affected by landmines, however, we were not able to mark all identified areas because it costs money and time and our resources are limited,” he said.

So far this year, 12 people have been killed by mines or other explosive remnants of war, 16 people have had body parts amputated and 47 more have been injured, according to the Cambodian Mine and Victim Assistance Authority.

Six of the deaths were due to a single antitank mine explosion last week in Preah Vihear province.

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