Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) officials working in Kampong Chhnang province on January 5 collected 11 old and broken firearms from local villagers a day after they had found them buried in the ground in Phlov Touk commune’s Peam Khnong village of Kampong Chhnang province’s Kampong Leng district.
District police chief Pal Choeun said on January 6 that farmers found one 60mm mortar, six M79 rifles and four M19 rifles while ploughing the land on January 4.
“We have already handed over the 11 firearms to CMAC in Kampong Chhnang province on January 5. None of them were in operable condition at this point though,” he said.
Ou Sam Un, Phlov Touk commune police chief, said that according to the police’s investigation all 11 firearms were properly packed with rubber and then buried in the ground, but it must have been many years ago because the rubber had rotted and the firearms were rusty.
Police concluded that the guns were likely buried many years ago, possibly as far back as the Lon Nol or Khmer Rouge periods during the 1970s.
“This area of Kampong Leng district used to be a Khmer Rouge stronghold. In the early 1990s the forest here was filled with Khmer Rouge, but after peace was made all of them came out of the jungle and integrated into the government, back in 1994,” he said.
According to a report by CMAC, in the first 11 months of last year they cleared a total of 91,919,972 sqm of the Kingdom’s minefields and destroyed about 15,400 landmines and pieces of unexploded ordnance – as well as the occasional cache of light weapons, similar to what these farmers had found buried in their field.