Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
People transport a stretcher into Kampong Speu Provincial Hospital after a bomb exploded at a military base, killing an Australian and a Cambodian. Supplied

One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018

An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province.

The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and Cambodian soldier Koy Mok, 52, were killed in the blast, which occurred at a shooting range within the base of a military “ACO” armoured vehicle unit in Phnom Sruoch district.

Early reports from Kampong Speu Provincial Governor Vy Samnang suggested the casualties were shooting guns at targets when they noticed something on the ground. Samnang said they went to pick up the object – a Russian-made bomb – which then exploded.

A Phnom Sruoch district police report said the tragedy occurred at around 1:15pm at the base in Maha Saing commune during a joint military training exercise focused on researching and digging up landmines. However, this was refuted on Friday, first by Australian authorities and then by the provincial governor.

The report said Mok was the one to unearth and pick up the unexploded ordinance.

Two other Cambodian soldiers, Sok Sarith, 48, and Long Vuthy, 50, received minor injuries in the blast, as did another Australian tourist. The trio was treated at Kampong Speu Provincial Hospital. The Post is withholding the names of the Australian casualties until their families are notified.

O Vann Then, the director of the provincial Health Department, said the three injured people had received “light injuries” to their hands.

“The body of the Cambodian soldier has already been taken out by family, while the Australian body is still at the hospital waiting to be taken by the Australian Embassy,” Vann Then said.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Friday said it was providing consular services to the family of the dead tourist, but would not comment further due to privacy concerns.

The Post had sought to confirm on Thursday that the deceased was working with one of the major demining groups, including Halo Trust, Norwegian People’s Aid, Mines Advisory Group or the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, but none knew the men.

The deaths are the first reported fatalities from unexploded bombs or landmines in Cambodia so far this year.

Additional reporting by Niem Chheng and Erin Handley

This version updates the story to correct initial reports from Cambodian police and military officials that falsely claimed the tourists were Australian military trainers and edits to conform. It also updates with comments from the Australian foreign affairs department.

MOST VIEWED

  • US imposes sanctions on Oknha Pheap and Kun Kim

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expressed strong dismay on Monday over the designation of Cambodian tycoon Oknha Try Pheap and General Kun Kim under the US’ Global Magnitsky Act. “It is very disturbing when the public figures of a country become the

  • Mother, daughter killed in hotel fire

    The bodies of a mother and daughter were found locked in an embrace after they were killed in a hotel fire in Phnom Penh at around 3:30am on Wednesday at the Phkar Chhouk Tep 2 Hotel and Restaurant in Phsar Doeum Kor commune, in the capital’

  • EBA withdrawal a destruction of EU achievements, PM says

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the EU’s possible suspension of its Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement amounted to a destruction of its achievements in the Kingdom and the demise of the opposition group. Hun Sen made the remarks while addressing more than 6,700 students during

  • Rights Day forum denied in Sihanoukville

    The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration last Saturday denied the request of land communities for a public location in the province to celebrate International Human Rights Day 2019 as the administration had already held forums to discuss land issues. However, the land community representatives said they would

  • Kingdom calls on Japan to increase number of direct flights to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh

    Cambodia is requesting Japan to increase the number of direct flights from Japanese cities and provinces to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, so as to contribute to increasing cooperation and tourist numbers between the two countries. During the opening ceremony of 3rd Japan Travel Fair

  • Sri Lanka’s LOLC Holdings plans to sell Cambodian unit

    LOLC Holdings Plc, Sri Lanka’s second-largest publicly traded company by revenue, plans to sell its 70 per cent stake in Prasac Microfinance Institution Ltd, which also counts Hong Kong’s Bank of East Asia Ltd. as a shareholder, LOLC deputy chairman Ishara Nanayakkara said. Nanayakkara