Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US tear gas bombs found at pagoda

US tear gas bombs found at pagoda

Cambodian Mine Action Centre officials confer in Svay Reing province’s Koki village, where two US-made tear-gas bombs are awaiting removal. Photo supplied
Cambodian Mine Action Centre officials confer in Svay Reing province’s Koki village, where two US-made tear-gas bombs are awaiting removal. Photo supplied

US tear gas bombs found at pagoda

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) has been alerted to two unexploded tear-gas barrel bombs dropped by the US in a Svay Rieng province pagoda complex during the Kingdom’s civil war in 1970, CMAC director-general Heng Ratana said yesterday.

Ratana said the bombs, found near a primary school within the pagoda’s grounds, contained chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS gas), also known as tear gas, and were among four to hit the site in February 1970.

He said while two blew up the pagoda’s dining hall, the unexploded ordnance was buried by local residents at the time and remained undisturbed until a recent tip-off by military police.

“We received the information and sent our team last week to interview three witnesses who participated in burying the bombs,” he said.

“This is not the first time that we have found these kinds of bombs, but the first time we found some in a crowded place like a school. In the past, we found them in the farms.”

Ratana said a CMAC team would return to the pagoda in Romeas Hek district’s Koki commune today to assess how to remove the bombs. He said the operation would likely take place early February on a weekend, during which time the school would be closed and nearby residents evacuated.

The US dropped at least 500,000 tonnes of explosives on the Kingdom during its bombing campaign against the Vietnamese, and later Cambodian communists, during the ’60s and ’70s, according to Cambodia scholar Ben Kieran.

CS gas was used extensively by the US during the war to clear enemy forces from tunnels and bunkers.

Though Ratana said news of the bombs had scared local residents, Koki commune chief Dom Sam Aun, said people would prefer they were left alone.

“We used to see such bombs during the ’70s,” Sam Aun said, recalling they made people’s lungs burn and skin itchy.

“Now, people are not worried, but we are worried that it might affect us when it is unearthed.”

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four

  • US' Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines arrive

    The first batch of 455,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine donated by the US touched down in Phnom Penh on the morning of July 30. They are part of the total 1,060,100 doses the US has pledged to provide to Cambodia through the World Health Organisation-led (

  • Governor: Covid subsides in capital

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng said the Covid-19 situation in the capital’s 14 districts has eased, with only two districts still recording a high number of infections. “Transmission cases in all districts are dropping, though they are relatively higher Meanchey and Por Sen Chey.