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Copycat fears after acid attack

Scarred survivors
Cheav Chenda, 35 , and her daughter Bun Cheata, who was just 2 at the time they were attacked, share a meal at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity in Phnom Penh on Monday. They were attacked with acid by two young men on a motorbike after stopping on the roadside near their home. Nita, now 4 years old, was sitting in front of her mother and received burns to her entire body.

Meas Chu, 37, and his family, who were doused with acid as they slept, wait for treatment at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity in Phnom Penh on Monday.

Photos by: Sovan Philong

THREE women who were doused in acid while sitting in front of a Takeo province karaoke parlour on Thursday are expected to arrive in Phnom Penh soon for medical treatment, and the governor of the district in which the incident occurred announced plans to shut down karaoke facilities district-wide amid fears of copycat attacks.

The women – Vong Sina and Vong Sreyly, both 22, and 24-year-old Seung Vann – all sustained injuries to their heads, hands, legs and faces in the attack outside Srey Mach Karaoke house, in the third acid attack in just over a week.

A fourth woman, 30-year-old Keo Sreo Ya, sustained only minor injuries and was discharged from the hospital Monday, said Ziad Samman, programme coordinator of the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity.

Kirivong district Governor Tek Song Lim said he hoped the closure of all karaoke facilities would deter copycat attacks.

“I have not set the date when they will be closed yet, but this is to inform the local people to not use acid as a weapon when they are angry,” said Tek Song Lim. “This is the first time that an acid attack has happened in my district. I am very surprised.”

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said the threat of copycat attacks is legitimate.

“They see it in the news, and they can get away with it,” he said. “They believe the victims deserve this kind of punishment.”

Takeo provincial deputy prosecutor Chan Ransy said no hearing had been set for Om Chhi, the 21-year-old wedding shop owner who police say confessed to the attack and who has been charged with causing intentional injury.

Road to recovery
Samman said Monday that the three women would arrive at the CASC “in the near future”.

Meas Chou, 37, who has been recovering at the charity since he was attacked with acid in June by a man who accused him of sleeping with his wife, said Monday that he wished the Takeo victims a speedy recovery.

“I feel very sorry for them,” he said, adding that he was looking forward to being discharged soon.



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