Two men were seriously injured by homemade grenades in separate incidents in Battambang and Ratanakkiri provinces on Monday and Tuesday, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) reported.
CMAC director-general Heng Ratana said the two men had sustained the injuries after home-made grenades – made of firecrackers or ammunition being placed inside cans for the purpose of throwing them in water to catch fish – unexpectedly exploded.
The victim in Battambang province’s Kamrieng district remains unidentified, but he was so seriously wounded that his hand is unlikely to recover mobility, Ratana said.
The man is now being cared for at a private clinic in the district.
A district policeman, who wished to remain anonymous, said the victim placed gunpowder into a can in order to catch fish, but it exploded as he was throwing it into the water.
“Authorities have educated and warned people many times, but the villagers seem not to listen,” he said.
In a separate incident in Ratanakkiri province, 25-year-old Romas Than sustained injuries to his right eye, left palm and left thigh after a similar homemade explosive went off unexpectedly. After the incident, his family took him to an emergency room at a health centre in the district.
Khan Mao, a district police station official, said the explosion badly injured the man. Than used gunpowder to make a homemade grenade in order to catch fish, he continued.
“We go to the local communities to educate them about the dangers of doing this, and commune police also go from home to home telling them, but I don’t know if they listen to us or not,” he said.
Ratana agreed that authorities have made great efforts to prevent these kinds of incidents, but he said more publicity is needed.
“I would like to express my condolences for all the young victims and appeal to all citizens not to play with or make unexploded mines or ammunition. Please report cases of people doing so to local authorities in order to prevent the dangers as in these cases,” he said.
Deaths and wounding by unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the first three months of this year rose to 35 nationwide. In the same period last year, there were only 17 such cases.
Senior minister and CMAC vice-president Ly Thuch said he was concerned about the increase in cases of UXO injuries.
“I suggest all local police make announcements and educate the people to raise awareness about the dangers of landmines and gunpowder,” he said.