Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday urged Cambodians to be cautious of mines and unexploded ordnance ahead of today’s National Mine Awareness Day, just one day after two separate instances of UXO casualties – one of them fatal – in Banteay Meanchey province.
In his message, posted to Facebook, the premier reminded the public of the government’s efforts in the early 1990s to clear mines – many of which were laid during the controversial K5 plan in the 1980s – along the Thai border, where Monday’s incidents occurred.
He then went on to encourage authorities and citizens to “work together to avoid danger”.
“Please, all parts of institutions must educate people about mines/UXO,” the post reads. “Please people, youths and students, be careful and do not touch mines/UXO.”
The warning, however, came too late for farm worker Moeun Sitha, 46, in Banteay Meanchey’s Svay Chek district, who was walking across a cassava plantation when he triggered a mine, receiving serious injuries to his arms, legs and head, according to district police chief Chea Slounh.
“It was not an anti-tank mine or he would have been killed outright on the spot. The mine must have been buried by Pol Pot’s soldiers,” Slounh said.
In another incident, 38-year-old farmer Moeun Vy in Mongkol Borei district was attempting to burn out an old tree stump when the fire caused a mine buried at the base of the tree to detonate, killing him instantly, said district police chief Sy Dy.