Cambodian Police Probe Bomb Planted Outside Officials House


PHNOM PENH, Sept. 2, 2004—Police in the Cambodian capital have begun an investigation into the planting of an explosive device found near the home of a top government official, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

The device, which included a U.S.-made hand grenade, was discovered in a plastic bag hung on the gate of chief of cabinet for the Senate Chea Son’s home Tuesday, and has already sparked conflicting theories about its origins.

This did not happen by chance. No ordinary person would dare to do that to Chea Son.

Police declined to fuel the rumor mill. Gen. Sau Sokha, Commander of the Cambodian National Military Police told RFA’s Khmer service: “My investigation is being conducted quietly and carefully to find the truth. I cannot tell you anything until the investigation is fully completed.”

“This matter is serious, and too mysterious to be immediately understood,” an official in the Ministry of the Interior familiar with security matters said. “It is not a run-of-the-mill problem, because someone was brave enough to commit such an act against Chea Son, a senior official.”

Kem Sokha, director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, “This did not happen by chance. No ordinary person would dare to do that to Chea Son.”

An e-mail newsletter, Khmer Intelligence, obtained by RFA on Sept. 2, purported to predict a similar “bomb plot” ahead of Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s joint visit to China from Sept. 3-5.

“This will be organized in order to point the finger at the Sam Rainsy Party as being behind the bomb attack,” said the e-mailed report, apparently dated Aug. 27.

Chea Son is adviser to the Cambodian Senate chief and acting head of state Chea Sim, who was hastily removed to Thailand to seek “medical treatment” during a government reshuffle in July.

The bomb was found at 4 a.m. Tuesday by a passing motorist, and dismantled by police experts. It was connected to an M-16 rocket and batteries and could have caused major damage, police said.

Cambodia formed a coalition new government July 15, nearly one year after an inconclusive general election left the country in a political stalemate.

Opposition MPs boycotted the vote, which left Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the royalist Funcinpec party of Prince Norodom Ranariddh in control of all top government posts.

It was voted into place by the National Assembly following Chea Sim’s removal to Bangkok.

Hun Sen was able to garner the support he needed through the use of a controversial “package vote,” which enabled him to ensure that Funcinpec support for the coalition held firm. Opposition politicians and a coalition of civil society groups say the measures violated the constitution.


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