VIENTIANE, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Lao provincial police have confirmed that a recent explosion which claimed the lives of three teenagers was triggered by unexploded ordnance (UXO), according to state-run daily Vientiane Times on Wednesday.
Police released their findings after collecting evidence from the site of the explosion in central Borikhamxay province and receiving information from a local girl who was injured in the blast.
According to the witness, five boys were playing along an irrigation channel near her village as she traveled with her parents to their farm. When returning to her home in the afternoon the boys were still playing in the area. The girl was about five or six meters from the boys when there was a large explosion and she felt herself hit by something.
The boys turned out to be school students aged eight to 13. One 13-year-old boy was announced dead on the scene and another two succumbed to their injuries in hospital.
Police told local media the event was unusual as UXO incidents had not occurred in that particular area before. Authorities are working to ensure that there are no other hidden bombs in the area.
From 1964 to 1973, Laos was involved the Indochina conflict, and was subjected to the heaviest bombing campaign in history with approximately two million tons of ordnance dropped on the country.
Many of the weapons dropped on Laos were cluster bombs designed to break apart and release a payload of smaller bombs. Approximately 30 percent of these bombs failed to explode on impact and continue to maim and kill people.
According to the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Program (UXO Lao), over 12,000 UXO related incidents have occurred since 1973. And since 1999, there have been approximately 934 casualties, with more than 50 percent of the victims being children.