Near Wat Kraong Krang in Pailin, headstones in a Chinese cemetery lie smashed and
burial sites disturbed by recent thievery.
The cemetery dates back to the 1950s and became overgrown during the civil war that
began in 1970.
When Pailin municipality authorities handed the site back to the Khmer Chinese Association
late last year, the association cleared the area and exposed the historic 13,619
square meter graveyard for the first time in three decades.
It didn't take long, however, for thieves to discover the old cemetery and destroy
many of the above-ground tombs in search of the reinforced steel that supported the
"The families of those buried at the cemetery are very upset," said Lay
Y, president of the Khmer Chinese Association.
Y estimated that 70 percent of the approximately 350 tombs have been destroyed, mostly
by children looking for metal to recycle and adult gem prospectors.
Ly Keangseng, whose great grandparents are buried in the cemetery, said he was sadened
by the destruction and hoped to rebuild his family's tombs.
(Reporting by Sam Rith and Joshua Kraemer)