Vietnam War Cluster Bombs Claim More Victims – Child Killed, Five Wounded in Laos.
Above Photo: A UXO Lao team from Attapeu discover cluster bombs in freshly-cleared jungle
In another unfortunate echo of one of the post-Vietnam War themes in my novel BACK, a 13-year-old boy was recently killed and five other boys wounded in northern Laos after a cluster bomb exploded as they were trying to open it with a knife.
The boys, aged 5 to 13, had been foraging for bamboo shoots in Luang Prabang province when they found the unexploded ordnance (UXO), the report said.
The surviving boys told officials they threw the bomb back and forth while walking home, and when they arrived back in the village, they tried to cut it open with a knife to see what was inside, striking it a few times until it exploded.
According to the Lao government, a quarter of the country’s villages are contaminated with UXO, and deminers have destroyed 1,345,431 items of UXO since the war ended.
UXO in Laos maims an average of about 300 people every year, though that figure dropped to 56 in 2012, and to 16 in the first six months of 2013, which reflects better education at village and school level, about the dangers of picking up, playing with or trying to defuse any kind of UXO if it is discovered. Nearly a quarter of the casualties in Laos every year are children.
It was a sobering experience to have been out with UXO teams and to have seen cluster bombs still littering the ground in the jungles of Laos and especially along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which is where modern-day backpacker trekkers in my novel BACK encounter it.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
And for POWs left behind in Laos:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
BACK Parts 1 and 2
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