PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Fourteen people died in western Cambodia when their homemade tractor ran over an anti-tank mine left over from the country's civil war in the 1980s, an official said Wednesday.
The incident occurred Tuesday in Battambang province, 155 miles (250 kilometers) northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, while the farmers were on their way back home from harvesting chilies, police Maj. Buth Sambo said.
He said 12 of them were killed instantly, including a one-year-old girl, and the two others died on the way to a hospital.
The police officer said the area was the site of intense battles between the Khmer Rouge and government forces in the 1980s and early 1990s and thus was seeded with numerous mines.
An estimated 4 to 6 million land mines and other unexploded ordnance from more than three decades of armed conflict continue to maim or kill Cambodians each year.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said earlier this year that it will still take years to clear the once war-torn nation of land mines that endanger lives in nearly half the country's villages.
Cambodian and foreign deminers have destroyed 2.7 million mines and unexploded ordnance over about 200 square miles (520 square kilometers) and the number of mine casualties has dropped significantly, but the explosives remain a major threat.