Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Forest fire detonates UXOs at Preah Vihear

Forest fire detonates UXOs at Preah Vihear

Forest fire detonates UXOs at Preah Vihear

A forest fire near the Preah Vihear temple complex caused decades-old landmines and other unexploded ordnance to explode on Sunday, according to regional military commander Duong Sam Neang.

Local media had reported the fire disturbed a functioning Royal Cambodian Armed Forces armoury. However, Neang denied those claims, saying explosions reported by villagers were caused by leftover armaments from past conflicts.

“The area surrounding the Preah Vihear temple is a demilitarised zone,” said Neang. “access is restricted by [UNESCO’s] World Heritage Committee, so there is no armoury as was broadcast by some media.”

The fire, said Neang, started at 11am on Sunday, setting alight bamboo thickets at the base of the Preah Vihear promontory. The resulting heat led to the explosion of landmines and two 80mm bombs, he said.

Preah Vihear was more recently the site of armed confrontations between 2008 and 2011, when neighbouring Thailand deployed troops after UNESCO’s decision to list the temple complex as a Cambodian World Heritage site.

In the 1980s, the Vietnam-backed Cambodian government laid a 130-kilometre minefield along its border with Thailand in an effort to keep Khmer Rouge guerrillas at bay.

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre has said it will attempt to clear the mines, although mine clearance NGO Halo Trust said last month that previous clearance initiatives were met with protestations of “not yet” from the government.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia’s image problem

    In opening remarks at a recent event, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luy David said information can be a double-edged sword. He told a European Institute of Asian Studies (EIAS) briefing seminar that the media has unfairly presented

  • PM Hun Sen says dangers averted

    Delivering a campaign speech from his home via Facebook Live on Thursday, caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen said his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had carried the country through danger in its latest mandate. He was specifically referring to the threat of a “colour revolution”

  • Bumpy road for local ride apps

    Ride-hailing services seem to have grown into a dominant player in the capital’s transportation sector. Relatively unknown and little used in the Kingdom at the beginning of this year, services like PassApp, Grab and ExNet are now commonplace on Phnom Penh streets. However, the

  • Hun Sen lays out party’s platform

    Caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday credited liberating Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge as among the reasons why people will vote for his ruling Cambodian People Party (CPP) in the July 29 national elections. Hun Sen, who has held the reins of power in Cambodia