Three Men Die and Two Injured in UXO Explosions

Three men were killed and two injured in two ordnance explosions in Battambang and Svay Rieng provinces on Monday and Tuesday, as this year’s already high number of UXO related casualties continued to climb, police officials said yesterday.

Government officials said earlier this week that after five years of declining UXO casualties, 233 people were killed or injured between January and September, 11.5 percent more than during the same period last year.

On Tuesday, two Battambang province men were killed when their tractor triggered an anti-tank land mine near one of their farms in Phnom Proek district’s Chakrei commune, according to police officials.

“Our district was formerly a battle zone during the civil war and this area was heavily mined,” said district police chief Song Sopheak. “This mine was triggered by the weight and destroyed the tractor and injured the four men.”

Mr Sopheak added that Chen Hak, 20, died at a nearby referral hospital on Tuesday night, before Chot Khon, 30, died Wednesday morning at a hospital in Thailand. The two other men on the tractor, suffered several broken bones but are expected to recover.

On Monday, 28-year-old Svay Rieng villager Kim Noeun died in Svay Rieng City’s Sangkhor commune after a 60-mm mortar shell he was attempting to break open with a rock exploded, police officials said yesterday.

“Police took Mr Koeun to the provincial hospital immediately, but he died there,” said commune police chief Seng Som Ol yesterday.

According to commune chief Sin Yong, villagers often stumble upon UXO near their homes.

“Villagers find many mines in Sangkhor commune left in the rice fields and they are very dangerous so we ask the Cambodian Mine Action Center to destroy them,” said Mr Yong.

Khem Sophoan, chairman of CMAC’s governing council, said yesterday that his organization has not worked in Svay Rieng since 2005 and is focused on more dangerous areas.

“In Svay Rieng, mines have decreased, so CMAC is working now in the northwest of Cambodia,” said Mr Sophoan.

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