A mother and her 2-year-old daughter were seriously injured in an acid attack yesterday morning in Takeo province’s Kiri Vong district, the third such attack this year and first since July.
Police are currently on the lookout for the brother-sister duo who allegedly doused the pair in acid over an unspecified business dispute, a departure from historical motives for attacks such as jealousy.
According to district police officer Koam Sotha, the woman’s husband was also injured in the scuffle, but was not hit by any acid.
“At 6:50am this morning, the victims came to their store in Tunlob market as they do every day to prepare to sell their groceries. When the husband was preparing things at the store, the suspect, who had a store nearby, came and argued with [him].”
Sotha said they had already argued a few days ago, but he did not know why they continued their dispute yesterday.
“While they were arguing and fighting with each other, the suspect’s sister took a big container of acid and threw it on the [man’s wife] who was feeding breakfast to her daughter, seriously injuring [them],” he said.
The victims of the acid attack are Moung Srey Mom, 31, the mother of Sok Met Molita, 2, while the father, 31-year-old Luy Sovannaroth, was lightly injured in the head from the scuffle.
All were initially sent to Kiri Vong Referral Hospital.
According to Sotha, police already know the identity of the two suspects: Beng Meas, 28, and his sister, Beng Leakhena, 22.
Both fled the scene afterwards and police are seeking their arrest.
“Police received this information late, so that’s why the suspects ran away to safety, but we are investigating to arrest and punish them according to the law,” Sotha said. “The victims’ family filed the complaint to the police to punish the suspects through the law.”
Pov Sokna, a staff member of Kiri Vong Referral Hospital, said yesterday that the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity (CASC) came to take the victims for treatment at the Children’s Surgical Centre in Phnom Penh, where many targets of attacks receive medical care free of charge.
“We estimate the burns at 44 per cent for the mother: on her back, behind her leg, on the side of the arms, and on the side of her face,” said Erin Bourgois, project manager for CASC. “Fortunately, the daughter was only [burned] a little on the face and the arms.”
According to CASC, this is the third attack so far this year, bringing 2014’s survivor tally to four people. Last year, six people were injured by three acid attacks.
Although acid attacks are devastating for survivors, who are often scarred for life, incidents have declined dramatically since the Acid Law was passed in 2011, making acid attacks punishable by up to 30 years in prison. NGOs, however, have questioned how much of the decrease is attributable to the law considering the low number of convictions.
The peak year for acid attacks was 2010, when 36 people were injured in 20 separate incidents.