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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Actress shot after journalist slain

Actress shot after journalist slain

Actress.jpg
Actress.jpg

IN the second high-profile killing in a week, famous singer and actress Touch Srey

Nich was shot in broad daylight on October 21 along with her mother, who later died.

The daughter of slain Funcinpec journalist Chou Chetharith burns paper money to honor her father at his funeral on October 22. His portrait is behind her. Chetharith, a reporter for the Royalist Ta Prohm radio, which Prime Minister Hun Sen recently criticized for its 'insulting' broadcasts, was gunned down outside the station on October 18.

Nich, 24, was shot twice in the face and another bullet lodged in her spine during

the attack by several men at 11:20 am near the InterContinental Hotel. She was rushed

to the emergency room at Preah Sihanouk Hospital and later flown to Bangkok around

2:00 am the next day, according to Mu Sochua, Minister of Women's and Veterans' Affairs

(MoWVA) .

Her mother, Kim Sinoun, 62, died at Calmette Hospital 20 minutes after her arrival.

Three days earlier, a pro-Funcinpec reporter, Chuor Chetharith, was gunned down outside

his office at Ta Prohm radio in Phnom Penh.

Nich underwent surgery at Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok on October 22. She was accompanied

by Khieu Thavika, a spokesperson for the Council of Ministers. On the morning of

October 23 she was in critical but stable condition, said government spokesman Khieu

Kanharith.

The motives behind the shootings are not clear, but the work was clearly done by

professionals, said a Funcinpec security official in the National Assembly. He said

recent killings, including that of Chetharith, were probably premeditated assassinations.

He said several men dressed in civilian clothes carried out the attack on Nich and

her mother. One of the assailants approached the women as they left a flower shop

and opened fire when they tried to enter their car.

Mu Sochua said in a press conference on October 23 that the government must track

down the killers.

"CPP is the party that has power and who leads the government," she said.

"It is the duty of the government to solve the problem they are facing and find

the killers."

The Alliance of Democrats released a statement on October 21 saying that Nich sang

for the causes of Kampuchea Krom, the southern region of Vietnam that once belonged

to Cambodia.

"This special song collection deals with the issues of corruption, border issues,

and sufferings of the Khmer minorities in Vietnam," it stated. The Funcinpec

party played her songs during the election campaign.

Touch Srey Nich, known as Touch Sunnich, also sang in Prince Norodom Ranariddh's

film "Raj Borei" in 2002 and recorded a theme song for the Ministry of

Women's and Veteran's Affairs called "Neary Rattanak", which means "Women

are Precious Gems".

On her latest album, one song describes a monk who betrays Khmer Buddhist culture

to the Vietnamese, causing the burning of the Chan Raingsey pagoda in Kampuchea Krom.

The song depicts the destruction of the pagoda by yuon-a term for Vietnamese seen

by some as derogatory-who enter the pagoda while throwing grenades and burn it down.

Following the destruction, the song encourages Khmer men to make sacrifices for their

nation and religion.

Ok Socheat, deputy secretary general for Funcinpec, said Nich was financially independent

and had not been romantically involved with anyone who might order her murder, as

some suggested.

"Srey Nich is good person, she has never had any conflict with anyone,"

he said. "This shooting, and that of the journalist, is to threaten the Ta Prohm

radio station," which had insulted CPP in recent months.

The shooting follows two others in October that have left two Funcinpec members dead,

according to the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee.

Chuor Chetharith, an editor at Ta Prohm radio station, was shot just one day before

Funcinpec activist Dos Hut was killed in Kampot province by a local police officer

on October 19. The organization did not conclude if the killings were political.

In response to the killings, the government has heightened police presence on the

streets. Hun Sen issued an order to the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense

to tighten security around embassies, international organizations' headquarters,

foreign businesses and media offices.

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