POLICE and military authorities are concerned by the size and sophistication of a
bomb discovered on March 5 near Wat Phnom.
The bomb (above) was loaded into a sugar cane cart and contained three B-40 rockets,
TNT, detonators and a timer, however it had not been connected.
Head of the Khan Daun Penh police, Pol Phithey, said it was the first time he has
seen such a complex and professionally made bomb. "I have been a policeman for
nearly 20 years and I have never seen a bomb like this."
Deputy commander of Phnom Penh military police, Um Many, was also surprised: "This
is modern technology so we called CMAC and they said this is professionally built."
CMAC experts discovered that the bomb was not ready to explode and they managed to
render it safe reasonably swiftly.
"Fortunately, the detonators had not been placed in the bombs; that's why it
was easy for us to dismantle," Chief of Staff of Cambodian Mine Center [CMAC],
Phan Sothy, said.
Say Thoun, a senior crime investigator with the Daun Penh district police, said two
men on a moto gave two shoe-shine boys 3000 riel to push the cart from near the riverside
Kirirom Restaurant to Wat Phnom.
Police said they had heard two different versions of how the bomb was discovered.
One had it that the boys were pushing the cart when a man on a moto told them there
was a bomb in it, so they went and told a guard at the park next to Wat Phnom. He
called the police who notified CMAC. The second was that a piece of wood fell off
the cart, the boys saw the bomb and told passers-by.
Say Thoun said the boys were young and very frightened by the experience so it was
not surprising there has been some confusion.
"It is difficult to talk to these boys about what happened and it is hard to
believe them; sometimes they said it was like this, sometimes they said it was like
that," he said.
Col Phithey said he wanted it made clear that the bomb was not picked up from near
the Sam Rainsy Party headquarters as several Khmer papers had reported him saying.
CMAC staff said if the bomb had been properly armed it was likely it would have exploded
as it was pushed along in the cart.
Sothy was also surprised at the way the bomb was put together.
"The three B-40 rocket shells were very professionally organized in the sugar
cane cart," he said. "It was set up by a person who has been trained in
such skills at an army school.
"An amateur could not organize a bomb like that," he said.
Sothy said he understood from the police that the bomb was going to be detonated
as crowds of people assembled to hear the lottery results near Wat Phnom.
Both Thoun and Many put the bomb down to "anarchic forces". But neither
could say who they thought it might be.
Top Chang, chief police commissioner of Phnom Penh, said that police had stepped
up security in the wake of the bomb attempt.
"Anarchic people have never given up their bid to destroy the government.
"Their tactic is to try and frighten the people. That is their purpose, but
the police are protecting the security situation very well.
"We have decided to protect our people, and the foreigners, so we are still
investigating this case as this bomb came from a terrorist group.
We cannot say which group but these people are very dangerous," he said.