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Multiple suspects arrested over grenade attack, but police offer few details

People gather at the scene of a grenade attack earlier this month in Phnom Penh.
People gather at the scene of a grenade attack earlier this month in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Multiple suspects arrested over grenade attack, but police offer few details

Police have arrested at least five suspects over the past two days in connection to a grenade attack that rattled a Phnom Penh neighbourhood two weeks ago, injuring four people, but officials yesterday remained tight-lipped as to the suspects’ identities and motives.

Sok Khemarin, chief of the Ministry of Interior’s penal police department, said yesterday that authorities had five suspects in custody, but that only three or four of them were likely involved in the crime. Khemarin’s account of the arrests was corroborated by a Phnom Penh municipal police officer, who was part of the team that made the arrests.

“During the operation [Tuesday] and [yesterday], we arrested five suspects that are involved in the grenade attack on Street 163,” he said on condition of anonymity. “They were sent to the National Police headquarters for questioning.”

Prior to yesterday’s arrests, security personnel professed to having essentially no leads on the September 6 grenade blast in the capital’s Boeung Keng Kang III commune.

Security camera footage of the explosion showed the grenade being dropped from a passing motorbike, then exploding on the driver’s side of a white Lexus SUV as it passed seconds later.

The blast – which injured four individuals and damaged three other cars – was initially chalked up as a case of revenge by the police. However, a day after the explosion, National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith suggested it was an attempt to affect Cambodia’s security.

Reached yesterday, Chantharith said that he was unaware of the details of the arrests because he was away from the capital, referring questions instead to Phnom Penh police chief Chhoun Sovann, who could not be reached.

Speaking to local media earlier in the day, Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the case was related to a love triangle, and that police were again pursuing it as a case of “revenge”.

While Sopheak could not be reached yesterday, there was a flurry of activity at the Interior Ministry, with families of those arrested attempting to locate them.

A Singaporean man was overheard demanding to meet his Vietnamese wife, who had been arrested late on Tuesday night and kept at the Ministry of Interior. However, a police officer, who was involved in the questioning, informed him that his wife had “masterminded” the attack, while refusing to divulge any other details.

“Your wife had a boyfriend. She planned the grenade attack to get revenge,” the police officer could be heard saying, adding that seven people had been arrested, of which three were Vietnamese.

However, the man, who declined to identify himself to a reporter, denied his wife had any involvement.

Another woman looking for her husband – a security guard at the Borey Chamkarmon gated residential community – was told that her husband would be produced in court today over his involvement in the attack. The woman declined to comment on the matter and, in a surprising move, was herself taken into custody a short time later for her alleged involvement in the case.

Officials present at the ministry, however, refused to comment.

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