Cambodian Opposition Activist Severely Injured in Shooting, Grenade Attack


2004.04.22
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Unidentified attackers threw a hand grenade and fired shots at a Cambodian opposition party member, Keo Saroeun, Thursday, in the latest in the country's ongoing political violence, RFA's Khmer service reports.

The attackers struck at around 1:00 a.m. local time at Keo Saroeun's home in Pea Rang District of Prey Veng Province, a spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party, of which Keo Saroeun is a member, said.

"Luckily, the victim Keo Saroeun is still alive, but he has severe injuries to his whole body, and one eye was confirmed seriously damaged," Prey Veng Province member of parliament Chea Poch said. He said Keo Sareoun, 28, would be moved to a Phnom Penh hospital Thursday for further treatment.

According to Kem Sokha, director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Keo Saroeun had a major row with a certain man in March 2004. But he declined to name the man concerned, pledging to investigate further before describing the attack as being for political or personal motives.

Prey Veng police chief Doeum Yarong, however, said the police had already made up their minds on the matter. "It resulted from a personal row. Police are searching for the attacker to make an arrest." He said Keo Saroeun was injured in his right eye, chest, legs, head, and body.

The attack is the latest in a wave of political violence which has shaken Cambodia's tenuous grip on democracy. Last month, opposition leader Sam Rainsy and supporters commemorated victims of a 1997 grenade attack on a party rally that left at least 16 people dead.

"In the name of all the families and on my own behalf, I wish to appeal for a full and permanent stop in taking the lives of others," he told some 300 people. "If it truly does stop, from now on, I will no longer bear a grudge."

On March 17, Rainsy filed a civil lawsuit alleging that Prime Minister Hun Sen masterminded the 1997 grenade attack. Rainsy, a French citizen, filed a similar lawsuit in France.

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