Thousands of war-era explosives found inside Cambodia school
Thousands of pieces of unexploded ordnance left over from Cambodia's civil war have been unearthed inside a school in the country's northeast, authorities said Sunday.
Decades after the brutal conflict and a U.S. bombing campaign starting in the 1960s, the country remains among the most heavily bombed and mined in the world.
Deminers discovered more than 2,000 explosives, including more than 1,000 M79 grenades, inside the grounds of a high school in Kratie Province over three days, said Heng Ratana, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Center.
He told AFP the explosive remnants were found after the school cleared land to expand a garden.
"The school has been closed temporarily," he said.
Images showed some of the masses of dug-up explosives, rusted over and stacked in rows.
"It is a huge stroke of luck for the students. These explosive devices are easy to explode if someone dug into the ground and hit them," he said.
The site was a military station during the war, he added, and an operation to clear the grounds would probably uncover more.
Cambodia's civil war lasted until 1975, with the United States and what was then North and South Vietnam backing various sides.
The effects of the U.S. bombing campaign and minefields left behind have long been felt in tragic ways, with roughly 20,000 Cambodians killed over the last four decades after stepping on landmines or bombs.
Clearance work continues to this day, with the government vowing to clear all mines and unexploded ordnance by 2025.
(Cover: Pieces of unexploded ordnance left over from Cambodia's civil war are unearthed inside a school in Kratie Province, Cambodia, August 13, 2023. /CFP)