US bombs recovered from Tonle Sap lake
A team of divers from the Cambodian Mine Action Center has recovered two large bombs dropped from US planes into Tonle Sap lake in Kampong Chhnang province.
Heng Ratana, the director-general of the center, said the two 500-pound US-made MK82 aircraft bombs were found by his divers in Samrong Sen commune after fishermen and local authorities raised the alarm.
“Two aircraft bombs were found about 300 meters apart. They have been safely removed and transferred to the provincial CMAC center,” Mr. Ratana said in a post on Facebook.
From 1963 to 1973, the US dropped about 500,000 tons of explosives on Cambodian soil without the approval of Congress, which was required at the time for any military action.
The discovery of the bombs in the Tonle Sap lake comes amid heightened tension on the issue, after US Ambassador William Heidt last month called on Cambodia to repay a $500 million debt that has been accumulating since the days before the Khmer Rouge regime.
Mr. Heidt likened Cambodia to Sudan, Somalia and Zimbabwe for failing to pay back the debt.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly urged the US to cancel the debt.
“Cambodia fell into the destruction of civil war after being invaded by US imperialism, which then fell to the genocidal regime of Pol Pot,” Mr. Hun Sen said last year.
“Without supporting the coup and without the invasion of Cambodia by the US, the genocidal regime of Pol Pot would not have occurred.”
Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan, two professors and historians who have studied the US bombing campaign in Cambodia, told Khmer Times in 2015: “During the four years of United States B-52 bombardment of Cambodia from 1969 to 1973, the Khmer Rouge forces grew from possibly one thousand guerrillas to over 200,000 troops and militia.”
Mines and unexploded bombs remain a leading cause of casualties and deaths in the kingdom, with an estimated four to six million landmines and other munitions left over from decades of war and internal conflict, according to a mine action centre report from last year.
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