More than 1,500 units of unexploded ordnance (UXO) have been cleared from an old ammunition warehouse adjacent to the Kampong Cham provincial police station, said Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general, Heng Ratana.
“Congratulations to CMAC experts from Unit 15 who have successfully cleared highly dangerous zones containing more than 1,500 shell heads, which included over 900 shells, 20 landmines, 600-plus shell heads and over 2,000kg of small arms."
“This is a real high-risk operation at a site located in the centre of the provincial town. The operation was supported by the Kampong Cham provincial governor and Kampong Cham provincial police chief."
“During the clearing operation, there was no accident. This is a huge success for [CMAC experts],” Ratana said in a Facebook post. He could not be reached for further comment on Thursday.
Kampong Cham provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun told The Post on Thursday that the dangerous shell heads in the warehouse were found many years ago.
He said authorities had just decided to clear the UXOs because the mines have caused the police and residents living around the provincial police station great concern.
“The warehouse had been marked for mine clearance for many years. We just decided to clear the UXOs left from wars because people living nearby are concerned. The mines were underneath [the warehouse] and can cause a big problem if they explode."
“Expert teams have safely put the headshells under control. But I don’t know whether there are more headshells remaining beneath the ground because I haven’t received a detailed report yet,” he said.
Thousands of victims
Kampong Cham provincial police chief Em Kosal declined to comment on Thursday.
As a result of three decades of conflict, Cambodia remains one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, with the problem particularly severe in the country’s rural areas.
Ny Nhar, the deputy director of the Victim Assistance Department at the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority said there are a total of 64,771 mine victims in the Kingdom.
Among them, nearly 20,000 were killed while more than 40,000 were disabled between 1979 and November this year.
Cambodia has some 40,000 amputees, one of the highest rates in the world.