Farmers in Oddar Meanchey province’s Samroang district have voiced concern after one found 40 unexploded grenades and mortars as he ploughed a field over the weekend.
On Sunday morning, Heang Hak, 56, reported to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) that he stumbled across live, unexploded bombs on his property.
“When I was ploughing in order to uproot bushes, I realised I had run over a blue bag containing explosives with my tractor; they fell out of the bag, but did not explode,” Hak said. “I reported to CMAC that I found a total of 40 pieces of unexploded ordnance [UXOs], including eight M19 grenades and 32 80-millimetre mortars.”
Finding UXOs on farming property isn’t uncommon in Samroang district, according to Chum Sarouth, chief of police in the district’s Konkriel commune. Last month, Sarouth’s department assisted in the removal of 82 UXOs on farmers’ property, he said. Many of the explosive devices are currently being held at his police department, Sarouth said.
“[The land is] tainted, UXOs could explode if they are run over or from the heat,” Sarouth said. “This is why we have urged officials to inspect the area.”
Discovery of so many explosives in areas they harvest has left farmers in the area worried for their safety and livelihoods, said Neth Chhay Sroeun, chief of Sokdom Romear village.
So far this year, at least seven people have been killed by UXOs in Cambodia.