An improvised grenade that students were playing with exploded yesterday, injuring 20 students, one seriously, at a school in Preah Vihear province’s Kulen district.
Ho Vanna, 12, said from hospital that the grenade, which he found in the village, detonated after he repeatedly threw it to a friend.
“I was very scared when I saw my blood coming out my belly and my kidney,” he said.
All of the children who were rushed to Preah Vihear provincial referral hospital escaped serious injury, except Ho Vanna, Dr Sok Veasna said.
“We have operated to take small pieces of the [shrapnel] from his belly, armpit, kidney and the top of his groin, but he still is not walking,” he said.
Sok Veasna said he hopes Ho Vanna would be able to walk again once an injury to his spleen had healed.
Kulen district governor Chum Puy said children who witnessed the scene told him teachers did not notice that Ho Vanna and his classmate, 12-year-old Tat Bopha, were pushing the improvised explosive device back and forth to one another on a classroom table.
“It is fortunate enough, that the boys are not brutally [injured]” he said.
Of the 20 victims, aged between 10 and 14, 11 had sustained minor injuries to their belly, kidneys and arms.
Mine experts from CMAC said they doubted Ho Vanna’s claim that he found the IED on the road and instead suspect he had been intentionally given it by someone wishing to cause them harm.
Hean Savy, the chief of CMAC’s mine-operating group in the region, said his staff had found irregularities while researching the case.
“The length of the tube is six centimeters, the width is about that of a thumb or a big toe, it is made from metal and it has a notch [detonator] made from a torch.
“Generally, it is not exploding if its notch is not triggered,” he said, adding that the IED was not life threatening.