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CMAC removes munitions near Siem Reap school

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More than 400 old grenades were found next to a high school’s fence in Siem Reap province. CMAC

CMAC removes munitions near Siem Reap school

The search for more grenades from a munitions store left over from the civil war continued in Siem Reap province on July 12. The unexploded ordnance (UXO) units were first found buried near 10 January 1979 High School’s fence in central Siem Reap town on July 10.

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre’s (CMAC) Fourth Mine Action Unit based in the province found 80 grenades of the type 36UK – produced in England in 1915 – on July 12, adding to the 325 it found on July 10 and bringing the total to 405.

Ean Sothear, head of the unit, told The Post on July 13 that this location was secure after it removed the UXO. But he said it was unknown whether there were more grenades in the surrounding area. He would discuss and research the case further to ensure that there are no other remaining munitions dump sites.

He said residents had reported that there were anti-personnel mines in other locations far from where the grenades were found. He had sent officials to inspect the sites to verify the claims. If it is true, he will send mine clearance experts to remove the UXO and secure the area for residents.

Sothear said the site was used as a munitions dump during the civil war. Later, soldiers could not dispose of the weapons and left them buried in the ground. The grenades are still effective and could explode if people dig into them or burn them.

“When the school fence was built, the grenades remained intact. If the fence was built any closer, it could have hit the munitions. But currently, it is safe for residents to pass through there. In other places, however, it could still be dangerous because a road construction project in the area could make detection difficult,” he said.

Sothear said the grenades were exported to Cambodia in the 1970s before the Khmer Rouge regime took control of the country. He said the working group overseeing the 38-road construction project in the province reported the discovery to his unit.

Provincial Department of Information director Liv Sokhon told The Post on July 13 that the unit had completely collected the grenades on July 12. But he received information that the working group had found unexploded ordnance in other locations far from there and reported it to CMAC.

He noted that the location where the grenades were found was a warehouse in the war. The provincial Department of Posts and Telecommunications, he added, had recently allowed a company to bury cables as part of the 38-road construction project. The company’s working group found the grenades and reported them to CMAC.

“These ammunitions were old and were stocked up in the warehouse for so long. CMAC took them away and destroyed them,” Sokhon said.

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