Poipet-Traders in Poipet's traditional market are moving to the new concrete bazaar
built earlier this year after shelling on Aug. 31 and Sep. 1 killed 15 people and
seriously wounded another 15.
Police and army in the district attribute the shelling, which came from south of
Poipet, to the Khmer Rouge, but several market stall holders, who did not wish to
be named, told the Post that they felt elements of the CAF who had previously belonged
to CAPF destroyed the market in order to free the site for property development.
"The (Khmer Rouge) came through Thailand and shelled Poipet as revenge for the
attack on Phnum Chat," said General Prum Moranak, commander of the CAF forces
at nearby Sisophon.
Stall holders feel that commercial interests induced local elements of the former
CPAF to shell their businesses.
"The local commander of the district told us to move by the 31st of August,"
said a younger stall holder in a blue tee-shirt as he stopped pulling down the wooden
latticework at the back of his shop. "We said we didn't want to go."
The day before the eviction deadline, soldiers came into the shops and pointed guns
at us in our shops, the young man added. "when the day came and we had not gone
the shelling started. Now that we are leaving the shelling has stopped."
The stall holders said they wanted to talk to the provincial commander for Banteay
Meancheay about the shelling, but they were afraid.
The shelling occurred between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., as the businesses were opening for
the day. According to the traders the victims were primarily workers in the market
and not customers. On the second day of shelling traders began to remove their stocks
and dismantle their premises.
"Some want to do business in Thailand and not the new market but the commander
has ordered the border guards not to let them go," another trader commented.
A border guard later denied this.
Lying half a kilometer from the Thai border, the old Poipet market consisted of wooden
stalls covered by thin sheeting in an unpaved area of about 2500 square meters. The
new market lies another kilometer further away from the border. Constructed from
steel girders and with paving in some areas, the new market is surrounded on three
sides by concrete lock-up shops. Reputed to be the largest market in Cambodia, the
rents charged for the new market are 50 percent higher than in the old shopping area.
"In the old market the rents are 1000 baht a year. In the new market they will
be 1400-1600," a workman told the Post.
The traders believed that onc´they leave, the tin sheeting of the roofs would
be sold, the site razed, and new two story shops would be built on the site. The
new stores would then be sold for 30,000 baht each, the traders said.
As we interviewed stall holders two soldiers came and stood in the middle of the
crowd. When people dispersed, one soldier grabbed Sombol, the Post translator, by
the arm and said, "You are the translator. Tell them that the Khmer Rouge made
As soon as the soldier walked off, the blue tee shirted stall holder returned and
took Sombol behind a half-dismantled shop, where no one could hear. "You are
the translator," he said to Sombol. "Don't believed that. The market was
shelled by the army."