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Woman dies in suspected suicide-arson house fire

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The fire killed one in Kampong Speu province on Friday. FB

Woman dies in suspected suicide-arson house fire

A woman is suspected of committing suicide by setting her own house on fire on the morning of April 1 in Chong Rok commune of Kampong Speu province’s Kong Pisey district, local police said.

Commune police chief Sam Heng identified the victim as Hem Pich Chenda, 56, a widow who lived with her 30-year-old son in the commune’s Pang Na village.

He said the woman was an alcoholic and had set the fire herself. Police had found no indications of anyone else’s involvement, and the body displayed no signs or marks that would suggest violence.

“This is not a murder case and no one else was responsible for the death. She set herself on fire. Her years of alcoholism had caused severe mental illness,” he said.

Citing the victim’s relatives, commune chief Thong Phat said the woman had been married, but her husband had passed away several years ago due to illness.

She and her son lived in the house and were well known for their struggles with alcohol. Locals said they had both developed serious mental illnesses as a result of their drinking.

According to Thong Phat, the woman had twice attempted to commit suicide but was helped by relatives and her neighbours.

He said before the incident, the woman’s son bought her noodles, but she threw him out of the house. A short while later, flames were seen emerging from the house. The villagers tried to extinguish the fire, but were unable to prevent the house from becoming engulfed.

“The son told us that his mother had collected clothes, mosquito nets, blankets and set them on fire. He tried to stop his mother, but was chased out of the house, which was then locked from the inside,” he said.

He added that because the victim was poor and a widow, the provisional governor had ordered district authorities to ease the burden of the funeral on the son by donating goods to him.

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