The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) has cleared more than 40ha of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in two temple areas in Preah Vihear province and continues to do so at the request of the National Authority for Preah Vihear (NAPV), according to an NAPV Facebook post.

The post added that CMAC began clearing landmines there for the first time in September last year and has now begun a new operation there on January 1 in two locations to help prepare the way for infrastructure construction for tourism development and further temple conservation work.

“The clearance of landmines this time is taking place at the Tamen temple area of about 30ha and at the entrance to the Koh Ker temple resort, an area of about 14ha,” the Facebook post said.

NAPV director-general Kong Puthikar told The Post on January 9 that CMAC plans to conduct clearance operations throughout the entire Koh Ker temple area of about 200ha once it has completed further research.

“The remaining landmines are on the northern side of the temple so we have yet to allow any tourists to enter that area and we have just expanded this area to set up a conservation system to protect what is on the ancient temple’s grounds.

“When the work is completed, then we can allow tourists into the area. The area we are expanding the park to include has an ancient dam. It is an ancient irrigation system connecting the Tamen Temple and the road to Angkor and Koh Ker and then over to Wat Phu in Laos,” he added.

Kong Puthikar said that the whole Koh Ker temple resort covers a total area of 8,789ha. The entire area would eventually be cleared of mines in order to provide an opportunity for tourists to visit the entire ancient site.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on January 9 that CMAC has been cooperating with NAPV to clear landmines and UXO in temples across the country since 2001 and that both sides were committed to finishing the work as soon as possible, ideally by 2025 to coincide with the national landmine free goal.

“As part of our strategy for 2022, we will increase our efforts at clearing as many of our potential tourist sites as we can across the country. Particularly for the clearance of the Koh Ker temple – we will continue to send demining operators there so we can complete it within the next few years,” he said.