Mine mystery must be solved | Bangkok Post: opinion

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Mine mystery must be solved

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Thai rangers on a routine border patrol have tragically re-discovered a problem supposedly solved years ago. Ranger Niran Sutham, 28, became the latest victim of a landmine. He stepped on a device near the Cambodian border of Surin province, one of the hot spots where Thai and Cambodian troops fought two years ago. 

The mine was not supposed to be there. Cambodia was a world leader in aggressively pursuing the 1997 Ottawa Treaty which banned all landmines. Thailand signed the treaty. Both countries removed all landmines and issued orders that none ever be planted again. Ranger Niran's 16-man patrol found 11 mines in addition to the one that crippled him. Someone placed the deadly explosives but no one is admitting it.

Thai officers identified the explosives as mines called TMN-1. Thai and other military forces state these weapons are made in Vietnam. The "Nato-standard" name identifies the origin of the mine as designed in the old Soviet Union. "TM" means that the mine was made as an anti-tank device. There are many models and offshoots of the TM family of mines. The addition of "N" means the mine has a second fuse, meant to be set as a booby-trap to make the mine blow up if it is discovered and moved before a man or tank detonates it.

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