Two landmines exploded in a Preah Vihear village in two separate incidents late morning Monday, killing three deminers and a local resident.
Im Yeab, police chief for Choam Ksan district’s Morakot commune, said in the afternoon that one of the three deminers’ bodies had yet to be recovered due to the blast.
From the size of the explosion, the device was likely an anti-tank mine, Yeab said. The three deminers were killed in the process of clearing it, he said.
A volunteer deminer and local guide were also at the scene and had been hit with some dirt and shrapnel.
“When we questioned them, they said they didn’t know anything — at first, they were in shock and they did not know where it exploded,” Yeab said. “They were sent to hospital.”
He said the explosion happened in scrubland, and named the three killed deminers as team leader Sun Vong, 29, deputy leader Ma Sineth, 32, and Morn Chork, 32..
About 30 minutes earlier, around 11 a.m., a man was killed in his cassava plantation due to a mine explosion, he added.
“He didn’t know that a mine was hidden under the roots of a tree, and when he burned it, it blew him up,” he said.
Last year, the village had experienced no landmine explosions, though the area had suffered in the past, he said.
CMAC director Heng Ratana said the area was heavily mined and was close to the Thai and Laos borders. He confirmed that the three deceased deminers and two others injured were from a local demining NGO run by Aki Ra, a former Khmer Rouge child soldier who later became a deminer.
According to Ratana, 44 civilians were injured or died in 2021, as CMAC cleared around 80,000 mines in the country. Whereas in 2020, the demining group cleared around 50,000 mines and reported 65 civilian casualties and deaths.