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High Numbers of Landmines, UXO Remain a Threat, Agencies Say

Three decades of war have left a killing legacy of landmines and unexploded ordnance, and mine clearance teams have scarcely made a dent in the past decade, officials told VOA Monday.

An estimated 6 million to 10 million landmines and unexploded ordnance remain in Cambodia, but only about 1 million have been cleared in the past 10 years, officials from private and government mine clearance agencies said.

Khim Sophoan, director of the Cambodian Mine Action Center, told VOA that land mines and unexploded ordnance still threaten the people's lives in rural areas and his organization is still very concerned even if the numbers decline.

About 3,000 square kilometers of arable land is strewn with mines and ordnance, he said.

"We do not know how many land mines are left uncleared," he said. "But, talking about the level of accidents, it went down."

There were 446 accidents in 2006, and 862 accidents in 2005.

Mines usually must be removed by hand through tedious efforts, and unexploded ordnance often kill the unwary.

Last week a 13-year-old girl died in an explosion after she began pounding on a rocket she found near her an alter that held her father's remains.