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