UNITED STATES federal investigators have arrived in Cambodia to aid local police
piece together evidence of the recent grenade attack.
Three agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), including a composite
sketch expert, landed in Phnom Penh last week to assist the Ministry of Interior
in its probe into the Mar 30 attack, sources said.
"We have asked them to help us to investigate the whole incident," said
Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for Interior. "We in the Royal Government of Cambodia
have a commitment to fight terrorism, and in doing so, we cooperate with the United
States and other governments."
The arrival of the FBI team follows a request made to Washington by the co-Ministers
of Interior, You Hockry and Sar Kheng, via US Embassy channels. According to sources,
they asked that a sketch artist be brought in to draw composites of suspects based
on eyewitness accounts.
"A sketch artist is among the investigators," confirmed an embassy spokeswoman.
"There are two others who are working in cooperation with the host government."
Citing the need to classify information while the investigation was still underway,
Sopheak declined to comment any further on the mission of the FBI agents, their expected
length of stay, and whether the local police investigation had yielded any leads
or possible suspects.
The Feds are also here because an American, Ron Abney, was among scores injured in
the grenade attack outside parliament that killed at least 12. The head of the local
chapter of the International Republican Institute, who was wounded by shrapnel, was
immediately evacuated from the country.
"The FBI investigates any incident of terrorism abroad in which Americans are
involved," the spokeswoman added. "In this case, they are here to investigate
the events surrounding Mr Abney's injuries."
Accompanied by police officials, on Tuesday the three agents inspected the site of
the attack, but brushed aside requests for comments.
Sources from both Funcinpec and CPP privately acknowledged that there was little
prospect of the Ministry of Interior investigation making significant progress.
"No-one trusts each other," said one official about the investigation team.
Another noted that eye-witnesses who could provide critical information were too
afraid to talk to anyone from the police or government.
"I know people don't trust the police. I work for the Ministry of Interior and
I don't trust the police," he said.