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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - "This doesn't happen here in Siem Reap"

"This doesn't happen here in Siem Reap"

"This doesn't happen here in Siem Reap"

SHATTERED LIVES

Ngin Chanrity, 35, is carried to a waiting truck by police after the B-40 attack on Second Prime Minister Hun Sen's motorcade in Siem Reap Sept 24.

SIEM REAP Sor Chanrity looked as a boy sleeping, lying on

a concrete bench in the shade, left knee raised, right

leg outstretched, hands peacefully limp on his stomach.

A little closer within hailing distance "hey wake

up, look! carloads of Ek Odoms from Phnom Penh are

driving past" to see it differently. How the bones

of the boy's breast and rib seemed to have been

carelessly rearranged under his t-shirt, in places that

just weren't right. His t-shirt wasn't even ripped.

And the blood. Blood a weeping neighbor would later

sluice from the bench with bowlfuls of water, creating a

thin puddle into which the four of the family's ducks

immediately began paddling and feeding.

For Ngin Chan Krisna, his schoolteacher mother, Chanrity

was "my beloved, my beloved... special...", the

middle child of three. But she was dried up of tears, her

face so gray with grief as to wonder whether color might

ever return. She was battling to piece together the rest

of her shattered family in Siem Reap hospital.

Her young son was arguably the last person to die in

political violence under Cambodia's 1993-98 parliament,

or perhaps the first under the 1998-2003 parliament. Or,

more correctly, murdered on the cusp between. "Don't

write that there's somehow a difference [between the two

parliaments]," one senior Western analyst told the

Post, "the words you write have meaning. This is

just a continuation of the same regime." And, by

extension, a continuation of the same mess. For him, as

with others, it is a meaningless argument where Chanrity

the statistic finally gets chalked up.

EVIDENCE

Siem Reap police arrange two of the four rockets for journalists and television crews, along with the empty tube from the rocket that detonated, killing a 12-year-old boy across the road.

The 12-year-old was breakfasting that morning on the

balcony of the wooden house with his sister, Chan Mardy,

10, and uncle Ngin Chanrity (who had just come up from

Phnom Penh for P'chum Ben, the Khmer holiday to honor the

dead). Below them in a concrete alcove was the father,

Sor Chantry. Chan Krisna was washing clothes out back.

Sometime probably between 3am (when one witness was

packing up her drinks stall) and 5am (when another awoke

to begin his moto-cleaning business), four B-40 rockets

were rigged in a thick flowering bougainvillea at the

opposite side of the road facing the Ngin's house.

Deminers said the ambush was

"semi-professional" and must have been laid

"fairly recently".

The bombs were detonated by remote control with a

battery-operated wire loop held by a faceless person (or

persons) on a motorbike a few dozen meters down the road.

Only one of the rockets fired at the instant two wires

touched CPP officials and policemen say less than 2

meters in front of Hun Sen's car, second or third in line

in the CPP motorcade as it made its way to the Royal

Palace around 9:15am. Other witnesses said Hun Sen's car

had instead passed by some distance, but that the rocket

flew between cars coming moments later within his party's

convoy.

Others say the convoy was well passed.

Local witnesses now, however, seem to have agreed on the

first version, that the rocket was fired near the front

of Hun Sen's convoy, and hence, seemingly, a genuine

assassination attempt.

Debate will continue as to motive and guilt.

The road from the CPP's hotel to the Royal Palace was at

that very moment the single most guarded and

theoretically safest in Cambodia.

Yet no-one claims to have seen the rockets planted.

It was a busy enough area too; two doors from the Ngin's

house is a popular nightclub that was open until the

early hours.

By peering in a line from where the rockets had been

pointed, taped on to an old wooden scaffolding in the

heart of the bush, the live bomb had to pass through Mao

Thang's moto-cleaning business in front of Ngin's house.

Thang said his hair stood on end when he felt something

rush over his head just before the blast.

It must have then near grazed a tree before crushing the

concrete wall at the foot of Ngin's house.
 The blast immediately blew upwards, ripping apart the

wooden balcony floor and the roof. Shrapnel splintered

inside Chantry's right lung and arm, and cracked apart

Ngin Chanrity's shin bones, leaving him a bloodied mess.

Much of Chanrity was left smudged down the far concrete

wall underneath as he fell through the ruined balcony.

Mardy, who physically suffered least of the four victims,

seemed pretty much shocked into semi-consciousness hours

later in the hospital.

Chan Krisna rushed blindly to the front of the house.

There she saw her favorite son dying.

She carried his broken body a few feet away on a bench

and screamed for help. A truckload of MPs arrived a few

minutes

HER DEAD SON

Chan Krisna (right) with neighbors outside her home, stand over the corpse of 12-year-old Chanrity.

SHATTERED LIVES

Waiting there is his grieving niece, 10-year-old, Sor Mardy.

later, she thinks she remembers.

"I'm frightened. It's bad luck for my family,"

she said, massaging her husband's leg as he lay coughing

blood in hospital. "I know the attempt is not on my

family but on the delegation.

"But now they are all talking why conduct such an

act? I only want justice, but I need immediate

help." She said she'd already spent her last money,

$200, on serum and medicines that the hospital could not

freely provide itself.

She had already witnessed her son's cremation earlier in

the day.

"I can't believe this," said one of Ngin's

neighbors. "They are just a poor family... this

doesn't happen here in Siem Reap."

Within 30 minutes of the blast international radio and

television were reporting an assassination attempt on Hun

Sen while on his way to the Royal Palace and Angkor Wat

to open the new parliament, no less.

Hun Sen, Ranariddh, Rainsy and the King all condemned the

violence. Diplomats and ambassadors muttered about

"this being too close" and "this is not

theater".

Ngin's neighbors meanwhile, where washing down the front

yard and trying to straighten out the mess of broken

crockery and glassware inside the house.

One of the first things propped back behind the glass of

a cabinet along with the family photos, obviously a

prized possession was Chan Krisna's own simple

certificate: 13 -18 May, 1996, "Training session on

human rights teaching methodology for primary

schools".

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