Military officials in Preah Vihear province have found a large cache of ammunition and rockets once belonging to Khmer Rouge cadres buried underground in the Dangrek Mountains along the border with Thailand, a top field commander said yesterday.
Major General Chea Morn, commander of RCAF’s Military Region 4, told the Post yesterday that Brigade 9 officials stationed in the mountains discovered the ammunition dump while on patrol in the Mom Bei area.
Military officials found nearly 2,000 AK-47 rifle bullets, nearly 2,000 12mm shells and about 600 B40 rockets, which Chea Morn said he believes belonged to Khmer Rouge cadres who fought with the government troops there in the 1980s.
“They are old and cannot be used, because they laid underground for a long time,” said Chea Morn. “We will check it out or hand it over to CMAC [Cambodia Mine Action Center] for destruction.”
After the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, Vietnamese-backed government troops drove the Khmer Rouge cadres to the northern jungles bordering Thailand.
The northwest zones along the Dang Raek Mountains were the last Khmer Rouge stronghold under the command of Ta Mok, the one-time leader of the national army of Democratic Kampuchea who was ultimately charged with crimes against humanity.
Chea Morn said the army has previously found stashes of unused bombs hidden underground but never this amount.
Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, confirmed the find yesterday, saying military officials were now searching for more such weapons caches in the area, but declined to comment further.
“They are collecting them now, but I don’t want to comment in detail as it is related to national security,” Chhum Socheat said.
CMAC director general Heng Ratana said he had officials deployed in the area for mine-clearance operations but military officials had not yet notified them.
To contact the reporter on this story: Cheang Sokha at [email protected]