A five-year-old boy was killed in Preah Vihear province on Sunday when a B-40 rocket he was playing with near his home exploded.

The boy’s father and his two young female cousins suffered injuries in the blast, which occurred in Kantuot commune, Choam Ksan district.

District police chief O Seng on Monday identified the boy as Man Ma. His two cousins, 10-year-old Bou Khim and eight-year-old Heng Sreypov suffered serious injuries in the explosion. The boy’s father and the girls’ uncle, Sam Saman, was sleeping close by and suffered minor injuries to his hands and shoulders.

Immediately after the incident, he said, police escorted the families of both girls to Preah Vihear Referral Hospital, where they were admitted.

Sreypov injured her left calf and hand and sustained an abrasion to her body while Khim suffered injuries to her right thigh and chest, he said.

“Their parents are taking care of them in hospital. We went to the scene right after the incident to assess the situation and questioned witnesses there,” Seng said.

Commune police chief Chan Hun on Monday said Saman found the B-40 rocket in a rice field three months ago. He tested it at the time to see if it would explode by placing it in fire and watching from a distance. When it didn’t, he thought it was safe and brought it to his home.

On the day of the incident, Ma and his two cousins played with the rocket close to the house and it exploded while Ma was handling it.

The explosion killed Ma instantly. After the incident, his parents gathered his remains for his funeral, Hun said.

“These kinds of incidents are commonplace in Kantuot commune and other parts of Choam Ksan district, given the extent of mines and unexploded ordnance here. These areas used to be battlefields for Cambodia and Thailand and especially the Khmer Rouge,” he said.

Senior Minister in charge of Special Missions and first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) Ly Thuch said on July 14 that the government released an outlook and a clear-cut set of strategies to put an end to the threat posed by mines and unexploded ordnance in the Kingdom.

He said the government plans to eradicate all mines and unexploded ordnance by 2025 – an effort which will require human resources, tools and money.

Thuch called for national and international actors and relevant parties to further raise awareness about mines and unexploded ordnance.

He also called on local authorities to brief communities on mines and unexploded ordnance to prevent avoidable catastrophes.