Colleagues of the Germany Army nurse murdered in Phnom Penh last week said he was
a kind man, utterly dedicated to helping the Cambodian people.
Sgt 1st Class Alexander Arndt (26) was shot dead on October 14 at 8pm as he set out
in an UNTAC vehicle with a friend for dinner at "La Paillote", making him
the first German soldier to die overseas since the Second World War.
Arndt, a nurse working in the pharmacy of the UNTAC Field Hospital, had been in the
country for just over four months and had rarely left the camp.
Lt Col Seibert, Arndt's senior officer, said the tragic killing of a "fine and
devoted humanitarian" would not lead to bad feelings against the Cambodians.
He said most of his men would prefer to stay behind after UNTAC pulls out. "They
don't really want to leave because of the huge gap in essential medical services
that will exist after we go," he said.
By a stroke of irony, the killing came just days before the German Armed Forces were
due to announce a special cash donation to set up field clinics throughout Cambodia.
Lt Col Seibert insisted that, despite the killing, the international community must
do more to help Cambodia and says it will be a travesty if more NGOs and money did
not come into the country now.
Arndt's murder added to the growing sense of unease among some expatriates in Phnom
Penh. Gun dealers on the black market say aid workers and other foreign customers
have been buying handguns and assault rifles in recent weeks (see The Gecko, page
Phnom Penh police launched a hunt for three young men who are thought to have carried
out the attack near UNTAC headquarers.
Eye-witness quoted by Reuters in The Natio n said they saw Arndt's vehicle run through
a puddle and splash three Cambodians on a motorcycle.
Sim Wath (17) said she heard them say "Let's go and shoot him." The man
at the back then drew a 9mm pistol and drove after Arndt.
Further up the road, Vieng Phoung (20) said she saw the motorbike overtake Arndt's
vehicle outside her shop. The man at the back then fired three times into the vehicle
before speeding off.
One bullet hit Arndt under his left armpit and passed through the thoracic area,
bursting the aortic chamber. A second bullet smashed his left knee.
"I think I've taken a bullet," Arndt told his friend, Sgt Klaas Torsten,
in the seconds before he died.
Lt Col Seibert says he is at a loss as to the motivation for the killing."The
local Khmers call this hospital the 'House of the Helping Gods' or the 'House of
Many of his colleagues are just as bewildered but many say it could easily have happened
Germany has a rotating contingent of 140 military medical staff in Cambodia, scheduled
to leave around the middle of November.
Sgt Arndt's body was flown to Bangkok for an official autopsy four days after his
death and was scheduled to be repatriated to Germany for a funeral with full military
honours outside of the city of Hanover.