Twenty Cambodian soldiers killed in ammunition base explosion: PM

The blast, which also injured several soldiers, occurred at an army base in Kampong Speu province, Hun Manet says.

Smoke billows from warehouse at the army base in Kampong Speu
Smoke billows from the army base following Saturday's explosion [AFP]

Twenty soldiers have been killed in an ammunition explosion at a base in the west of Cambodia, according to Prime Minister Hun Manet.

The blast, which also injured several soldiers, happened on Saturday afternoon at an army base in Kampong Speu province, Hun Manet said in a statement on Facebook, without giving more details on the incident.

Hun Manet said he was “deeply shocked” when he received the news of the explosion at the base, with the army saying that an entire truck of munitions had exploded.

The prime minister expressed his “deepest condolences” to the families of those killed, and promised the government would pay for their funerals and provide compensation both to those killed and those injured.

Pictures on social media showed a destroyed single storey building wreathed in smoke, as well as what appeared to be civilians, including a child in nappies — with cuts and gashes being treated in hospital.

Munitions accidents are not uncommon in Cambodia, which is awash with ammunition following decades of civil conflict — accidents that are exacerbated by frequently lax safety standards.

Cambodia’s army said the incident was a “warehouse ammunition explosion”, that had destroyed a truck fully loaded with weaponry.

An office building as well as nearby barracks were destroyed, with 25 nearby homes also damaged by the resulting explosion.

Hun Manet, a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, was promoted to be a four-star general shortly before he was elected to serve as prime minister, succeeding his father Hun Sen.

Source: News Agencies