After more than half a year with only one acid attack recorded in Cambodia, police in Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet town are at a loss to explain an incident yesterday in which three women were allegedly doused with the chemical while eating noodles at a local market.
Vy Vireak, police chief of Poipet commune, where the attack was witnessed by vendors, said that he went down to the scene, but the apparent targets had disappeared. He went to private clinics and hospitals, also with no luck.
“The people reported to me about the acid case, which happened in Akoak market in Poipet commune, and there were three people injured, one among them seriously,” he said. “We are seeking to arrest the suspect,” Vireak said. “According to the noodle seller in the market . . . they have never seen the victims before. They do not know where the victims came from.”
Vireak said he could not offer a motive for the attack, though the majority of them are caused by jealousy taken to the extreme. Since he can’t locate the victims, he speculated they had sought treatment outside of a hospital, he added.
“We will continue to [search for] them again tomorrow,” he said.
Erin Bourgois, project manager for the Cambodian Acid Survivor’s Charity, said it’s not unusual for victims to make themselves scarce.
“A lot of people fear retribution from the perpetrator, so they don’t come out,” she said.
Acid attacks in Cambodia have been on the decline – down 82 per cent since 2010, according to the charity – and Bourgois attributes the dip to the passage of a law in 2011 that introduced tougher penalties for those convicted along with new efforts to regulate the acid market.
“A lot of high profile sentences were passed down,” she said. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHARLES ROLLET