Deminers informed of 14 more chemical bombs

Cambodian Mine Action Centre officials remove a US chemical bomb in Svay Rieng’s Koki commune.
Cambodian Mine Action Centre officials remove a US chemical bomb in Svay Rieng’s Koki commune. Photo supplied

Cambodia's top demining official said that authorities have discovered or received reports of about 14 new chemical bombs in Svay Rieng’s Koki commune as of yesterday.

“As of today . . . there are 14 [new] bombs,” said Heng Ratana, director of the Cambodia Mine Action Centre.

Authorities discovered two bombs filled with tear gas at the town’s primary school and pagoda in January. Demining officials descended on Koki commune last week, following an anti-American tirade from Prime Minister Hun Sen.

While excavating the bombs, villagers accidentally exposed themselves to chemicals inside another, similar bomb 3 kilometres way, landing eight individuals in the hospital.

Later that day, Ratana claimed there were reports of six new chemical bombs in the commune. Yesterday, that number jumped to 14.

“They are similar bombs . . . we have not ID’ed all of them yet. We have visual contact on three,” Ratana said, adding the estimate was based on villagers’ reports.

While the bomb on the grounds of the primary school has been removed, Ratana said authorities are having difficulty finding the bomb at the pagoda.

Writing that it is “hidden underground” on Facebook, Ratana said authorities are working carefully to avoid damaging the pagoda. He also wrote that three of the eight hospitalised villagers returned for treatment on Monday “as their health couldn’t recover”.