Cambodia's military on Friday destroyed a stockpile of old surface-to-air missiles to keep them from falling into terrorists' hands. About 300 people, including U.S. Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli, watched Cambodian explosives experts detonate four vehicle-mounted SA-3 Pechara missiles at an army camp at Srok Phnom Sruoch, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of the capital, Phnom Penh.
The missiles were among 36 that Cambodia acquired from the former Soviet Union in the 1980s, said Lt. Gen. Chao Phirun, director-general of the technical department of Cambodia's Defense Ministry.
The United States has provided technical and financial assistance for Cambodia to get rid of Soviet-era missiles and improve security at its army weapon storage facilities.
"The joint efforts of our two governments will ensure that these missiles do not end up in the hands of terrorists, who would seek to use them against all of us," Mussomeli said. Cambodia destroyed 230 shoulder-fired missiles with U.S. help last year.
Eradicating obsolete but dangerous weapons showed "Cambodia's active contribution to strengthening international cooperation in the fight against terrorism," said Gen. Meas Sophea, Cambodia's deputy commander in chief, who presided over Friday's ceremony.
Last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen acknowledged that Cambodia used to be a transit point for weapons smuggled to rebels in Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Myanmar. The country is still awash with weapons left over from three decades of civil war. The government has destroyed nearly 171,220 weapons since 1999, reports the AP. I.L.
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