The Killing Caves in Battambang

Located 11 km southwest of Battambang in Cambodia, the Phnom Sampeau killing caves are considered the historical attractive site which attract thousands of local and international visitors every year. Major atrocities occurred there throughout the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Many victims were bashed to death then threw into holes which is the skylight of the caves.

Left - Natural Skylight through which the bodies were thrown into the cave ; Right - The Skulls

The approach is 12 km to the west of Battambang province. Phnom Sampeau is also home for the macaques that feed on bananas left by travelers in front of the memorials. There is a natural porch made of pillars from the beautiful views of vegetation valley of vines which occupied by bats.

The killing caves are located about mid-way up the mountain along a 250-metre road. The mountain is of karstic stone and contains a group of temples set on it. Nowadays there is a large glass memorial next to the skulls and bones and a golden resting Buddha. These were the people who were slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge Regime -- the bodies of these people were thrown through a skylight opening. A memorial which is made from cyclone barrier and chicken wire contains human bones at the base of the stairs.

Remnants of the government forces are seen there, bound towards Crocodile Mountain, which was the strategic location of the Khmer Rouge throughout the war. At the base point from where the steps lead to the cave, there is a chicken-wire field which also stocks bones and skulls of these killed by the Khmer Rouge. Another feature seen is a 9.1 m incomplete statue of Buddha, carved partially into the rock face of the hill, with only the head of the Buddha exposed.  

All images courtesy of Michelle Enemark via Atlasobscura


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