Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Officials will not look into bomb blast that killed Australian, Cambodian at military base

Officials will not look into bomb blast that killed Australian, Cambodian at military base

Police tape cordons off the shack used at a shooting range inside a military base in Kampong Speu province, where an explosion killed an Australian man and a Cambodian solider late last week. Authorities say no investigation will be undertaken. Facebook
Police tape cordons off the shack used at a shooting range inside a military base in Kampong Speu province, where an explosion killed an Australian man and a Cambodian solider late last week. Authorities say no investigation will be undertaken. Facebook

Officials will not look into bomb blast that killed Australian, Cambodian at military base

Cambodian authorities yesterday said that they will not investigate a bomb blast that killed two people – one of them an Australian – at a military base in Kampong Speu province on Thursday because the matter was a “private case”.

Two Australian men, whose names have not been released by Australian authorities, visited a private shooting range within the military base last week – a spot apparently frequented by tourists who shell out up to $300 to fire rocket launchers and other military weaponry.

One Australian and a Cambodian soldier, Koy Mok, 52, were killed, while fellow soldiers Sok Sarith, 48, Long Vuthy, 50, and another Australian man received minor injuries.

Australia’s Department of Defence on Friday confirmed the accident did not occur as part of a military training exercise and that the men were not Australian Defence Force personnel – despite the initial claims of the Cambodian military, police and provincial governor that they were bomb experts.

Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said there would be no investigation as it was a “private case”.

“Inside the unit, they are good friends with [the Australians]. They allowed them to visit privately. It’s not an official case, and is not concerned with the military operation,” he said.

He added the Australians were well aware of the “risk [to] their life”, and hung up when asked if soldiers at the base would be reprimanded.

National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith and Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak – who in the past has said such public shooting ranges on military bases are illegal – both said any investigation would be a matter for the military.

One of the survivors, Long Vuthy, said on Monday that he believed he was in fact getting demining training from Australian experts at the time of the tragedy.

“I thought it was my lucky day,” Vuthy said adding he hoped to learn skills from the Australians, whom he said had been there for two days.

Vuthy said he was sitting about 3 metres behind Mok and the Australian man – who were wiping earth from the bomb to determine its age and origin – when it detonated, killing them both.

“When they removed the earth, they also caused the detonation,” he said. “They believed the old grenade was OK.”

“When it exploded, I thought I was dead because of all the shrapnel and injuries all over my body. I did not know east from west, and the bleeding was like a pig’s neck being slit. I did not dare to remove my shirt to see the wound.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway