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Farmer ploughs into shells

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CMAC officials removed 58 artillery shells from a cornfield in Battambang province on Wednesday. CMAC

Farmer ploughs into shells

Fifty-eight 105mm artillery shells were removed from a cornfield by the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) in Battambang province on Wednesday.

Kamrieng district police chief Koem Ponlork told The Post on Thursday that at 10am a 66-year-old resident living in Lumphat village, O’Da commune, Kamrieng district, requested assistance from CMAC officials to check and excavate the shells from a hole in his cornfield.

“In that field, our authorities found three pieces of 105 mm artillery shells coming out of the ground on a tractor plough patch. Nearby, specialists found another shell hole in the field, bringing the total to 58 artillery shells that were found,” Ponlork said.

The owner of the field, Chhun Hoeub, told The Post he was in a state of shock and panic when his plough tractor unearthed three shells, although it didn’t cause an explosion.

“Just seeing the three shells pop out of the ground on the tractor plough patch, I was terrified and stopped the tractor and ran away because I was afraid it would explode.

“I am still terrified because it was not only three shells, but the CMAC team found 55 more buried in the ground beneath the three shells,” Hoeub said.

He said the artillery shells had been taken by CMAC officials to safe locations.

Also on Wednesday, in Kratie province’s Chhlong district, while fishing with a net at Balaing village, Damrei Phung commune, a fisherman called on villagers to help pull their nets, believing there was a huge fish.

When the villagers pulled the net to the side, they saw a huge cluster of bombs, which surprised them and the authorities, according to local police officials.

District Police Chief Chhong Toran told The Post that at first, the police team was shocked that the bomb was so big. He said it was unprecedented.

“We immediately contacted CMAC to inspect the shell and the specialist said it was a cluster bomb [CBU-46/A],” he said.

He said the cluster bomb had been taken by CMAC officials to a safe location.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Thursday that according to the technical specifications, cluster bombs can weigh up to 340kg and have a length of 3.22m and a width of 401mm.

They are dropped from jets and inside the body is a cluster of 444 bombs, each weighing 500g, which are smaller sub-munitions that are ejected and scattered.

“This type of cluster bomb is an American product,” he said.

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