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Battambang blast: Forest fire detonates landmines

Battambang blast
Two landmines exploded on Sunday evening in Battambang province’s Samlot district when they were inadvertently set off by a farmer using fire to clear his field. Ki Sokha, deputy chief of the Pailin province police, said the fire spread from the farmer’s land to nearby forests. The explosions, which happened about 10 kilometres from the Cambodian-Thai border, caused Thai soldiers to place calls to Ki Sokha’s office. “The blast astonished Thai soldiers and they called us,” he said. “We told them that it was caused by forest fire.” Landmine explosions are a common occurrence in Samlot district and Pailin province during the dry season, he said, especially with villagers clearing farmland. He said there were no casualties in Sunday’s incident. Ki Sokha added that many villagers in the area clear landmines themselves, because “some residents are former troops, so they know how to demine”. Net Nath, deputy manager for a Cambodian Mine Action Centre’s demining unit, said he was unaware of Sunday’s explosions but landmines were in “almost every place” in Samlot district. 

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