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Charges as death toll climbs

Morn Cithy holds her child while her brother receives intravenous fluids
Morn Cithy holds her child while her brother receives intravenous fluids on Sunday after attending a wedding that was the target of a grenade attack in Kampong Thom province. Hong Menea

Charges as death toll climbs

Kampong Thom Provincial Court yesterday handed down a charge of premeditated murder to the suspect in a fatal grenade attack on a party in Prasat Sambo district last Saturday, deputy prosecutor Seng Meng Srun said.

Deputy provincial police commissioner Ker Khannara confirmed the charges against Khoem Dara, 24, and said that the death toll from the attack had risen yet again – this time to 11 – after another victim succumbed to injuries yesterday morning.

“A seriously injured patient died [Thursday] morning,” he said. “The doctor could not help.”

“In total, in our police report to the court, there are nine [dead] in the beginning, and 30 injured,” he added, noting that police were trying to update and refile the report to reflect the two more recent deaths.

If found guilty, Dara could face life imprisonment.

Dara stands accused of throwing a grenade into the midst of about 100 dancing partygoers who were attending a pre-wedding celebration last Saturday night. Dozens were injured in the blast, including the would-be bride and groom.

Yesterday the Kampong Thom provincial governor and other officials joined the families of victims in a funeral ceremony at a local pagoda, where the urns holding the ashes of the dead had been brought, said Sann Tin, the aunt of the bride-to-be who was injured in the attack.

Kampong Thom Provincial Hall, she added, had paid 500,000 riel ($125) to the families of each person killed, and 100,000 riel to the families of each injured person, as well as $100 to the families of each of the dead for the funeral.

Reports that charges had been laid against a suspect over the attack did little to dampen Tin’s sorrow, she said yesterday.

“There are many people dead. How can I be happy?” she asked.

“Everyone left alive is like me: they won’t be able to forget that attack on our special day for their whole lives.”

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