Landmine found at ex-communist base

PHITSANULOK — An anti-personnel mine believed to have been left by communist guerrillas fighting government troops in the Cold War era has been found in Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park.

A team of soldiers and park officials discovered the explosive near the entrance to a cave used to house the Communist Party of Thailand’s radio station from 1968 to 1982.

The area leads up to Phu Lom Lo, a mountain which is part of the Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park and one of the communists' military bases and an airfield for weapons transport. The team explored the “radio cave” and adjacent areas on Friday and finished their mission on Sunday when they spotted the old mine and called in the local explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) police. 

The EOD police said the mine could be used in improvised devices and was very old, which made it difficult to move. They decided to destroy it on-site.

In late 1998, Thailand was the first Southeast Asian country to ratify the Ottawa Treaty, also known as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. A survey conducted in 2000-2001 said 933 distinct areas in 27 provinces were suspected of having landmines and other unexploded ordnance, covering areas of more than 2,500 square kilometres. 

According to the military-operated Thailand Mine Action Centre (TMAC), 343,134 landmines had been destroyed as of March 2012. Most of the landmine-strewn areas are along the Thai-Cambodian border, and many of them were the result of Thailand's conflict with communist insurgents.

Nobody knows exactly how many landmines remain in Thailand, though officials interviewed by the Bangkok Post in 2012 put the number at about one million.

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