Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Government denies planting land mine

Government denies planting land mine

Government denies planting land mine

Cambodia flatly denied allegations made by Thailand that it was responsible for planting the mine that severely injured a Thai soldier last week, saying the old landmines were laid by the Khmer Rouge more than 30 years ago.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi told the Bangkok Post on Saturday that the incident was especially disappointing given the improving relations between the two countries.

“This was clearly in violation of Thai sovereignty and seriously injured a Thai soldier,” Thani said.

Sergeant Chatree Kaewprasan of the Thai 23rd Infantry Division was on a foot patrol in the disputed area near Preah Vihear temple on Wednesday night when a landmine blew off his right leg.

In a statement released the same day, Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the border between the two countries is still heavily contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordnance that were buried by the Khmer Rouge, sometimes in Thai territory, over the course of nearly three decades of war.

“The area near Preah Vihear temple where a mine was set off by a Thai soldier was previously a battle zone and a sanctuary of the Khmer Rouge forces, who must have laid many landmines to protect their position during the war,” read the statement. “It is extremely sad and disturbing that such baseless accusations are made against Cambodia, when mine explosions are still a common occurrence, even in places inhabited or cultivated for years after the war ended.”

Heng Ratana, director general of Cambodian Mine Action Centre, said areas along the Thai-Cambodian border remain heavily mined.

“We cleared the areas around the temple and the pagoda [Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvara] in 2008, and we collected a lot of landmines,” said Heng Ratana. “But since we had the border dispute, we stopped the activity. Cambodian soldiers have also stepped on mines along the border before, not just Thai people.”

A Thai army spokesman Col Prawit Hukaew said both the wounded sergeant’s legs had been amputated and that he was now out of danger.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cheang Sokha at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release