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Anti-tank mine kills 14

Fourteen people, including a 1-year-old girl and a 6-month-old infant, have been killed after a homemade tractor ran over a civil war-era anti-tank mine in Battambang province’s Banan district.
Buth Sambo, Banan district police chief, said yesterday the accident occurred as the group was driving home from work at a chili farm in Kampong Kul village, in Banan district’s Cheng Meanchey commune.
“The road was abandoned after the civil war because during the Pol Pot regime, [the Khmer Rouge] put anti-tank mines in the ground,” he said.
“The villagers should not have travelled on that road because we already have a new one nearby.”
He said that 12 people were killed immediately by the blast, while one died on the way to hospital and another died in hospital yesterday morning.
The victims were made up of nine females and five males.
Chhiv Lim, project manager for the Cambodia Mine/ERW Victim Information System, described Tuesday afternoon’s accident as the worst in recent memory.
“This is the second time [this year] an accident like this has caused so many casualties,” Chhiv Lim said.
In May this year, three people were killed and 11 injured when their vehicle drove over a similar anti-tank mine, he said.
Buth Sambo said Tuesday’s incident marked the second accident involving an anti-tank mine in Banan district this year. On August 25, a 17-year-old boy and two cows were killed when one of the cattle stepped on a land mine.
“We authorities always go down to educate the villagers about the dangers of unexploded landmines,” he said.
“They understand these dangers well, and they always report to us when they see unexploded remnants.”
Chhiv Lim said 39 people in Battambang province were reported killed or injured by landmines or explosive remnants of war in the first 10 months of 2010. Country-wide, 234 people were killed from January through October, a 13-percent rise compared with the 217 people killed in the same period last year.
“Some people are stubborn. They know the dangers, but they will still hold a bomb like a microphone when they sing karaoke,” said Chhiv Lim.
According to the Cambodian Mine Action Authority, about 223 people in Cambodia were reported killed or injured by landmines and explosive remnants of war in the first nine months of this year. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SOEUN SAY

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