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Australian killed in bomb blast was tourist, not military deminer, officials admit

Two Australians involved in a fatal bomb blast at a Cambodian military firing range were tourists, not bomb experts as initially claimed by Cambodian authorities. Supplied
Two Australians involved in a fatal bomb blast at a Cambodian military firing range were tourists, not bomb experts as initially claimed by Cambodian authorities. Photo supplied

Australian killed in bomb blast was tourist, not military deminer, officials admit

An Australian man killed in a bomb blast at a Cambodian military base on Thursday was a tourist, not a military trainer or bomb expert as originally reported by police and other Cambodian officials.

Australian authorities on Friday confirmed the death did not occur as part of a military training exercise and that no Australian Defence Force personnel were involved.

Two men, the Australian and Cambodian soldier Koy Mok, 52, were killed at a shooting range inside an armoured tank military base in Kampong Speu province.

It is believed one of them picked up a Russian-made bomb, which then exploded.

ABC, which first reported the Australian was not a military expert, suggested the story was a “cover up” by the Cambodian military and said soldiers at the Kampong Speu military base “were ordered not to speak to media because allowing foreigners onto the range to fire weapons was ‘illegal’.”

Two other Cambodian soldiers, Sok Sarith, 48, and Long Vuthy, 50, and another Australian man received minor injuries in the blast and were treated at Kampong Speu Provincial Hospital.

The Cambodian police have reported the Australians’ names as Aaeou Sweeibu and Bra Dvey – names which suggest an error in transliteration. A photo of the injured Australian shows him wearing camouflage three-quarter pants, ankle socks with white sneakers, and a bandage wrapped around his arm.

Shooting ranges on military grounds are not uncommon in Cambodia, with tourists paying to shoot assault rifles, throw grenades and fire bazookas at targets.

Kampong Speu Governor Vy Samnang on Friday backpedaled on his previous claim the Australians were “bomb experts”.

“They are not military, they are tourists only,” he said.

Samnang denied the pair paid to shoot weapons at the site.

“No, no, everything is state-owned, we do not charge anyone,” he said. “They might be friends of the Cambodian soldiers and they might invite them in. These Australian guys claimed to the soldiers that they are bomb experts.”

He said two representatives from the Australian Embassy had visited the site and taken the Australian's body.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed on Friday that it was providing consular assistance to the family of the dead tourist, but declined to say more due to privacy reasons.

Samnang added that Prime Minister Hun Sen had offered his condolences to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney on Friday morning, where both were attending the Asean-Australia Special Summit.

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