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Soldiers die from suspected poisoning

Three soldiers had died and seven remained in a critical condition a week after eating food and home-made rice wine suspected to have been poisonous, officials said yesterday.

The soldiers were at a battlefield in the Chambok Karng and O’Thmor areas of Trapaing Prasat district’s O’Svay commune,  in Oddar Meanchey province, when they reported on December 2 that they had been poisoned.

Two soldiers died at the site and the other eight were rushed to the Siem Reap Hospital. One died soon after reaching the hospital, but the rest were reported to be recovering after receiving treatment.

“We really don’t know the reason for the deaths,” deputy military police officer Pok Sophal said.

“They had been eating food and drinking water as usual when they became seriously ill.”

Appropriate compensation had been paid to the dead soldiers’ families and traditional funerals had been organised for them, Sophal said.

Experts have conducted medical examinations, but the cause of death is still unclear.

Srey Naren, a co-ordinator for the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, said that although there were reports of the soldiers drinking rice wine, there had not been an official investigation into the deaths.

If the 10 soldiers were in fact poisoned by rice wine, this case follows a string of reports of rice-wine poisonings since 2010 that have killed 99 people from all over Cambodia, according to Ministry of Health officials.

Last August, at least 50 villagers from Pusat, Kampong Cham and Prey Veng provinces died after drinking rice wine containing high levels of methanol.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at sokheng.vong@phnompenhpost.com

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