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Former KR help in mine clearing

F ORMER Khmer Rouge commander Colonel Chhouk Rin will use five KR defectors to pinpoint

and clear an estimated 9,000 landmines around Phnom Voar.

Phnom Voar, in Kampot province, became the focal point of international attention

last year when three Western tourists were kidnapped by Rin - who later defected

- and eventually murdered at the rebel stronghold.

The drive to clear Phnom Voar of mines, something unthinkable a year ago before defections

and a concerted government offensive to clear the area of KR, will be led by the

Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC).

Around 180 Cambodian deminers, or six platoons, has begun clearing the 40 hectare

area. Rin is a key player. "The clearing operation will not take long. [Five

defectors] will pinpoint where the mines are... they know very well where the mines

were laid," he said. Rin put the number of mines at around 9,000, Chinese and

Russian-made, which had been laid since around 1981.

CMAC director Ieng Mouly officially launched the project on Oct 6, some eight kilometers

from where the three Westerners, David Wilson, Jean-Michel Braquet and Mark Slater,

had been killed.

The land, once cleared, will be settled by about 230 families of defectors, whom

authorities hope could grow pepper crops.

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