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Cambodia: a "fortress of mines"

28-02-1996 News Release 96/8

For over a month, heavy fighting has been raging between the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian government forces in the north-west of the country. According to ICRC delegates in the region, over half of the wounded arriving at hospitals are the victims of anti-personnel mines. One out of four is a civilian. Reports speak of a veritable " fortress of mines " , laid by the Khmer Rouge, which government troops have been storming since they started their offensive in the Pailin area on 15 January.

Hospitals in Battambang have been under particular strain since the offensive began: nearly three quarters of the surgical cases admitted to the city's civilian hospital are war-wounded, and the military hospital has already exhausted the medical supplies provided by the ICRC and thought to be sufficient for the rest of the dry season. In the first month of the offensive, 450 wounded people were admitted to the region's three main hospitals. The ICRC has supplied the Mongkol Borei hospital with a supplementary stock of medicines and provided bandages to the first-aid post in Poipet, where a great many civilians have fallen victim to the regular shelling.

From 30 January to 1 February ICRC delegates also visited 24 security detainees being held by the government in Battambang's central prison.