Written by Vong Sokheng
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Blast near Hun Sen's house causes no fatalities: Cabinet.
AN EXPLOSION near the Kandal province residence of Prime Minister Hun Sen injured two military officials Sunday night, one of them seriously, according to a press release issued by the prime minister's Cabinet.
The reported injury count could not be independently verified, and the site remained closed to reporters and rights group workers who attempted to access it Monday.
The statement said the explosion occurred after a military truck loaded with ammunition caught fire at 7:30pm.
Residents on Sunday reported hearing a series of explosions that lasted between 10 and 15 minutes. Chea Savath, a monitor for the rights group Adhoc who went down to the site, said he heard reports from residents that the series of explosions was punctuated with nine loud blasts that sounded like "heavy bombs".
He said rights group officials and others were not allowed direct access to the site, adding that Adhoc had no choice but to take the government's word on the number of injuries.
"The incident is related to national security. Therefore, all of the authorities have tried to keep silent," Chea Savath said.
He added: "I think there were not many serious casualties. I think it just made several hundred villagers afraid and shocked."
The Cabinet statement said: "After the fire was completely put out, following a detailed report to Prime Minister Hun Sen, he authorised the Cabinet to report this regrettable incident to the public."
Heng Ratana, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), said CMAC teams had cooperated with local authorities and soldiers to rid the site of pieces of ammunition that had not detonated during the series of explosions.
He said villagers, living two kilometres from the premier's residence in Takhmao town, did not report any casualties.
"It is safe now," Heng Ratana said.