The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) has unearthed more than 1,800 pieces of unexploded ordnance in Kandal province’s Takhmao town, with authorities saying they believe it was buried there for the July 1997 factional fighting in Phnom Penh.
A landowner living in Takhmao reported the presence of the rockets to local authorities and CMAC on Sunday, and the group removed the ordnance on Monday, according to CMAC head Heng Ratana, who said the owner was in the process of building a new house.
Ratana said that he believed the rockets were hidden there before the battles in July 1997, during which armed forces loyal to then-Second Prime Minister Hun Sen defeated those loyal to First Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh and ousted him from power.
The ordnance include 60mm, 81mm, 82mm and B40 rockets, he said. “This is a small case of the fragmentation and war killing our own nation in the modern time in Cambodia,” he stated.
The landowner, Nab Chreng, said he bought the plot in 2014 and was aware there could be UXO present. “My neighbours, knowing the history of the land, told me and my wife that the weapons and unexploded ordnance might remain,” he said.
Chreng’s neighbour, Ly, 60, said she knew that the land had been a military base during the 1990s and had warned him to have the area checked before building his new home.