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Army assures that no new mines laid

Army assures that no new mines laid

T HE Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) are no longer planting mines and have

purchased no new mines since 1992, claims Co-Minister of Defense Tea Bahn.

He said Cambodia stopped importing mines when the Cambodian Mine Action

Centre (CMAC) was opened in 1992.

"We don't buy or import mines to

Cambodia. We have a lot of mines which we have imported in the last 15 years and

we are beginning to stop using them."

He declined to provide the exact

number of mines in storage and where they are kept, but said no new mines had

been planted after the armed forces were unified in late 1993.

However,

the chief technical advisor at CMAC, Lt-Col Serge Léveillé, said centre staff

believe new mines were laid along Highway 10 between Battambang and Pailin

during last April's Khmer Rouge-RCAF offensive. "We had news from villagers that

there have been new mines laid. It is not clear who put the mines there, but it

seems likely that both sides did... when you want to slow the enemy's advance,

you put in some mines."

CMAC chairman Ieng Mouly agreed that the army

had now stopped planting or buying mines.

Earlier, in a speech during

the celebration of Mine Awareness Day on Feb 25, Mouly called on the government

to take a strong stand against using mines and to ban the use of anti-personnel

land mines.

Mouly said Cambodia's mine problem was created by

international arms dealers. Since demining efforts were begun in earnest in

1992, mines made in Vietnam, Russia, Greece, China, the United States, India,

Italy and Singapore have been unearthed from all over the

country.

"Cambodia alone can not resolve this problem, so Cambodia needs

assistance from the international community in terms of equipment, finance and

expertise," Mouly told a crowd of nearly 1,000 people, after they had marched

through Phnom Penh to support the call for a ban on mines.

Léveillé said

CMAC was hoping to get an $8 million injection of funds during the March 13-15

meeting in Paris of ICORC. So far, the centre has received $12 million of the

total $20 million donors pledged when it was set up.

CMAC is also

looking for funds to pay 17 foreign technical advisors over the next

year.

Mouly said according to a Feb 13 resolution of the Council of

Ministers, CMAC has become an institution of the Royal government. Foreign

technical assistance is slated to end after April 1996.

Since CMAC was

set up it has cleared more than 8 million square meters. It has also identified

more than 2,000 mine fields and is working to mark more than 27 million square

meters of mined land.

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