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No bomb suspects yet: police

An improvised bomb explodes after being detonated by Cambodian Mine Action Centre officials near Phnom Penh’s National Assembly
An improvised bomb explodes after being detonated by Cambodian Mine Action Centre officials near Phnom Penh’s National Assembly on Friday. HENG CHIVOAN

No bomb suspects yet: police

Police officials said they were continuing investigations into two explosive devices found at key locations in the capital on Friday but had yet to identify any suspects.

The homemade bombs were uncovered Friday morning across from the National Assembly and across from Freedom Park, on the east side of the Naga Bridge on Norodom Boulevard leading toward Wat Phnom. The first device was exploded at the site in a controlled detonation, while the second one was removed from the scene.

Two days after they were uncovered, police said they were no closer to fingering a culprit.

“They are still investigating,” said military police spokesman Kheng Tito. Asked whether they had identified suspects, he said, “No, not yet”.

National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith could not be reached for comment, but in a statement posted to the National Police website yesterday, he said the investigation was ongoing.

“The police are actively investigating in order bring the perpetrator for punishment,” he writes, before appealing for anyone with information to step forward.

“The preliminary conclusion based on the competence [of officials] is that the planting was intended to destabilise society and security.”

Heng Ratana, director-general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre – which sent deminers to clear the scene Friday – said their own investigation suggested the device at the National Assembly was made by someone with a high-degree of technical know-how.

“It’s not normal, it involved some kind of technical training,” he said, stressing that the CMAC investigation focused strictly on the devices themselves and not the “criminal facts”.

According to Ratana, the homemade bomb involved a 60mm mortar “modified with an improvised explosive device.”

“[It was] in the five-litre tin, mixed with fertiliser and five litres of diesel,” he said. “Now we will collect more information and analyse the evidence.”

A second, simpler device – made of three M79 shells bound together – was safely removed from the Naga Bridge shortly after it was uncovered.

The US, Australian and British embassies put out security alerts on Friday, warning their citizens to avoid the area near Wat Phnom as well as the demonstrations that began yesterday.

Though the police remain adamant that it is too early to draw conclusions, opposition party officials said there could be little doubt the devices were intended to “intimidate”. The Cambodia National Rescue Party kicked off three days of protests yesterday morning, with the demonstration centred at Freedom Park – near where the second device had been found.

“It’s intimidation, total intimidation,” opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua said. “It came before the biggest rally ever. You could not be more direct.”

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