Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New Year massacre in Battambang pagoda

New Year massacre in Battambang pagoda

New Year massacre in Battambang pagoda

B ATTAMBANG - Three policemen, two elderly men and a nun were killed in a New

Year's massacre at a Battambang pagoda by the Khmer Rouge.

A band of

guerrillas entered the pagoda's grounds, one of them dropping to the ground to

fire a tripod-mounted heavy machine gun at a group of people, according to

witnesses.

The attack occurred at about 10pm on April 14, the first day

of the Khmer New Year, at Bay Samram pagoda in Banan district, about 14km from

Battambang.

"We were sitting on a bed, watching villagers play

traditional games when a group of about 30 Khmer Rouge soldiers arrived," said a

12-year-old monk. "One of them knelt on the ground and used a machine-gun to

fire at us.

"We were very shocked and ran quickly to the Kod (monk's

house)."

The machine-gunner fired at one particular group of people,

including the policemen, who were not in uniform. The other KR apparently did

not open fire.

The policemen were instantly hit, witnesses said, along

with two elderly Achar (pagoda lay people who serve monks) and a nun who had

been sitting near them.

They fell to the ground in a twisted heap,

witnesses said. One wounded Achar struggled to his feet, raising his hands in a

salute - apparently pleading to be spared - but was felled by another burst of

bullets by the gunman.

A local villager was also seriously injured in the

attack, which lasted only a few minutes before the guerrillas fled.

Local

residents said the KR appeared to have been tipped off by someone, because they

knew where to find the policemen.

One woman said a guerrilla told her: "I

kill only police and military. I don't kill any people."

When the Post

visited the pagoda the following day, blood stains and bullet holes were clearly

visible on the ground and in a roof near where the six were

murdered.

Though Cambodia funerals usually take at least two days, five

of the dead were quickly cremated the day after the attack because of villagers'

fears the KR would return and interrupt their funerals.

One woman said

the KR, before they left, had told villagers: "No need to celebrate funeral. We

will be back later on. Prepare rice for us."

However, a full funeral was

held for the sixth person, one of the elderly Achar, who lived a long way from

the pagoda.

The man's bloody body was cremated as his daughters and other

relatives wept in scorching midday heat.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub

  • Hun Sen: Don’t react to hostility

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged tolerance and thanked members of the Cambodian diaspora for not reacting to the hostility on display towards him by others while he was in the US to attend the May 12-13 ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC. In an audio