S URVIVORS of a bloody raid on a Vietnamese fishing village in which at least 13
were killed and 27 injured are angry police have released fishermen suspected of
carrying out the massacre.
Three days after the attack, the provincial
military arrested six fishermen and a businessman, all Cambodians. They were
found in forest land about five km from the scene of the killings at Piem So
village, 35 km southeast of Phnom Penh.
One of the villagers, who did not
want to be named, said he believed the fishermen were behind the massacre, in
which a 23-day-old baby had an arm blown off by a bullet which killed its
The villager said:"They used to come to our village and gamble.
When they lost money they used to threaten us saying they would come back and
One of the fishermen was suspected of being linked to the Khmer
Rouge, said a police source, though it was unclear what involvement the
guerrilla faction had in the raid. Several similar indiscriminate raids were
carried out by the faction last year in the run-up to the elections.
raiders sprayed bullets and tossed grenades on the villagers as families
gathered together to relax on a Saturday evening.
Chin Narong, the
second-in-charge of the provincial military command, said there was some
evidence against the fishermen but the investigation was continuing.
have found guns illegally belonging to the group: two AK-47's and an M-16, as
well as a case of bullets and two radio communication devices."
said he released the suspects after 48 hours, which made the villagers very
He said six of the group, from Kompong Cham and Prey Veng, were
hired to fish the lake near Piem So by a businessman who rented the lake from
the provincial governor.
A spokesman for Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign
Affairs said the attack was "obviously aimed at inciting national hatred and
sabotaging traditional friendship between the peoples of Vietnam and
"We request the Royal Government to take prompt measures to
safeguard the lives of Vietnamese residents."
Amnesty International in
condemning the raid said they were worried the government was doing little to
protect ethnic Vietnamese from such attacks, and called on the government to
improve their security.
In a statement, Amnesty said: "The Constitution,
adopted in October 1993, provides no protection to members of the community who
are not of Khmer origin."
Young Dient, a survivor of the raid, angrily
said: "The gunmen just killed us like animals." His daughter aged 11 and son
aged seven were injured when a grenade exploded outside their house.
"Another grenade was thrown at a small video theater and hit a woman
blocking the front entrance exploding on impact killing her.
residents learned that the attackers were trying to kill them some ran into the
river near the village, others ran to the forest, and some hid under beds and
"The attack may have been pre-planned as the four
Cambodian residents of the village suffered no injury."
He added that
the attackers would not have come from far away: "You see, the slaughter was
performed as if they knew our habits very well. They fired right where we were
He said the gunmen covered their faces with kramas and
walked in the dark, away from the glare of kerosene lamps lighting the village.
The ethnic Vietnamese residents complained that they had no security for
A villager, who requested anonymity, said: "A militia man
only arrived on the scene two hours after being informed of the
"The local authority used to allow us to carry guns for
protection, but after the elections last year the authority banned us using
Le Thy Chan, 23, told the Post how he survived the raid: "I was
very lucky, bullets just missed me.
"Then I lay on the ground pretending
to be dead. The gunman passed over me and thought I had already been shot."
A witness told the Post how Nguyen Van Ty, the head of the village, ran
up to a gunman and said: "Please! Please stop! We are innocent. We used to eat
and drink together. Why do you kill us?
"But he did not listen to Ty's
begging and silenced him with AK-47 bullets."