A N alleged assassination attempt on Prime Minister Hun Sen made headlines around
the world, but closer to home - and especially near the site of the attempt - people
only heard about it on radio.
At around 7pm May 27, Hun Sen's convoy was heading from the Second Prime Ministers'
Takhmau residence to Phnom Penh to take Hun Sen to an official dinner with Asian
Development Bank officials.
At a village called Chak Angre Leu, according to Hun Sen aides, at least one shot
was fired at the convoy, hitting bodyguard Seng Son, riding on a motorcycle about
19m behind the Prime Minister's bulletproof car. The bodyguard was mildly wounded.
Near where Hun Sen's Cabinet said the murder bid occurred along Rt 2 from Takhmau,
several locals were at a loss to explain what happened the night.
"The convoy never stopped," said a roadside vender. "I didn't notice
anything. I just heard the next day that an attempt had happened here, so I went
to ask my neighbors what had happened. They asked me the same question."
Of more than 20 people interviewed in the area, no-one knew anything. Some expressed
surprise that the police hadn't been around to ask questions following the attempted
attack on Hun Sen.
The chief of Hun Sen's bodyguards, General Hing Bun Hieng, said it would be difficult
to find the suspect because the attack took place at night.
"We cannot accuse anybody without having the facts. The attackers had no
aim to kill bodyguards, but aimed to kill Hun Sen," he said.
Other members of Hun Sen's Cabinet said they believed the attacker/s used an AK47
with a silencer - which was why no-one heard the bullet - and might have escaped
by swimming the Tonle Basac river.
One military expert said that a silencer reduces the speed of a bullet, adding that
it was "more than stupid" to use one against a fast-traveling car.
Another military observer noted that "an AK47 is the wrong weapon to use
against a bullet-proof car".
A police expert who had followed the case said that the bullet appeared to have
been fired from a far distance, and may have been a stray shot which hit the convoy
He added that the convoy, including the bodyguard who was hit by the bullet, did
Asked about the incident the following morning, co-Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh
said that he was not informed of it and that Hun Sen did not mention it to him upon
his arrival at the official dinner.
As for Seng Son, the injured bodyguard, he met reporters the next day, wearing
a blood-stained bandage. He declined to take it off to show the extent of his wound,
but showed his helmet with a neat bullet hole through it.
"He wanted to hit Hun Sen but he was traveling too fast," he said.