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Call for action over cluster bombs

Call for action over cluster bombs

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An armed M46-type cluster submunition lies on the ground near homes in Sen Chey village in Preah Vihear province in April.

As many as 15,000 sub munitions from Thai cluster bombs remain in Cambodian territory after border clashes in February, experts said yesterday, as the London-based Cluster Munition Coalition launched a campaign calling on countries to sign a convention banning their use.

The majority of the bombs in the Kingdom are at high risk of explosion and cannot be taken from where they lie, Heng Ratana, director general at the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, said. “Our deminers would not be able to remove them yet because the situation in the area is dangerous. We were only able to put up signs [warning of] mine danger,” he said.

In May and June, deminers identified a 150-square-kilometre site where Thai troops shelled cluster bombs into Cambodian territory during an exchange of fire between the two countries earlier in the year, Heng Ratana said. The M42, M46 and M85 submunitions were found in an area about 20 kilometres from Preah Vihear Temple.

“Despite recent progress, cluster bombs were used this year by the Thai military in Cambodia and by Gaddafi’s troops in Misrata, Libya. These incidents were met with international criticism, demonstrating that even the countries that are still outside the ban are not exempt from condemnation if they use these weapons,” read a statement issued yesterday by the coalition.

Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said yesterday that Cambodia will decide to sign the convention on cluster munitions in the near future, but only after its contents have been carefully reviewed. “I asked Minister of Defense Tea Banh and he said that we are still studying the issue,” he said.

The convention became international law on August 1, 2010.

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