Battambang provincial Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) officials on Thursday destroyed 39 units of unexploded ordnance (UXO) after local farmers discovered them on Wednesday while cultivating a rice field in Prey Totoeng village in Kors Kralor district’s Chhnal Mann commune.
District police chief Chhang Van Chai told The Post on Thursday that the UXOs comprised one DK series bomb, 21 B-series mortar bombs, 10 M-69 grenade launchers and five 60mm and two 62mm mortar rounds.
Provincial CMAC head Pring Panharith told The Post on Thursday that the UXOs had been completely destroyed a day after district police handed the haul to CMAC.
“The UXO units were destroyed by experts. Some of the UXOs were mortar rounds, while some were [empty shells]. The remnants of UXOs can easily be detonated by mistake if they are touched or hit with farming implements,” he said.
Ten out of 14
Panharith told The Post that of Battambang province’s 14 districts, 10 have large numbers of UXOs.
Of the 10 districts, Kors Kralor district has the most UXOs, he said. And because the district is more sparsely populated than other areas, he said, CMAC officers destroy more UXOs there than in the other nine districts.
CMAC secretary-general Ly Thouch said in May last year that Cambodia had seen 64,705 casualties caused by UXO and landmines over the previous 20 years, with landmines placed across around 2,111 sq km of land in the Kingdom during the civil war with the Khmer Rouge.
Over the same period, he said, CMAC had cleared about 1,670 sq km covered with landmines.
CMAC director-general Heng Ratana said at the time: “These are the legacy of war. We will need much more time to clear the landmines and UXO to make it safe for people to farm.”
Ratana also pointed last month to the US bombing campaign as a source of the ordnance. He said according to CMAC data, Cambodia was bombed by the US across 115,275 locations.
The US carried out 230,544 bombing raids, he said, which meant more than 2.8 million tonnes of ordnance was dropped – equivalent to a total of 2,590,000 bombs.