MILITARY police on Tuesday arrested and detained two women suspected of planning an acid attack in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district, after passersby overheard them plotting the crime and informed authorities, officials said Wednesday.
Thorng Piset, district military police commander, said two women had been caught in possession of more than a litre of acid, which one of the two later admitted was intended for use in an attack.
The target, a 20-year-old student, was walking alone along a road in Daun Penh’s Chaktomuk commune Tuesday evening when she was accosted by the two women, who began to hit her without explanation, Thorng Piset said.
Passersby alerted police after overhearing one of the women, who were still scuffling with the victim, order the other to “please bring acid to me to pour on her”, he said.
“But she was not doused with acid because the villagers helped her in time,” he said, and added that police who had already been in the area arrived to intercept the women, who had gone to collect the acid.
He said one of the suspects later admitted to police that she had planned an acid attack on the student, who she suspected was having an affair with her husband.
He added that the case had been passed on to the municipal military police.
Chan Veasna, municipal military police secretary, said the suspects were being detained, but that he was not sure whether they would be charged.
“It was just an argument, and they can negotiate with the victim to get free, because the suspects did not yet pour acid on the victim,” he said.
According to a report released last month, Phnom Penh is the site of the second-highest number of attacks in the Kingdom, accounting for 16 percent of 236 acid cases recorded by the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity (CASC) between 1985 and 2009.
CASC programme manager Chhun Sophea said Wednesday that arrests made to pre-empt acid attacks would signify a “big breakthrough”.
“Hopefully this will deter other people from planning attacks,” she said.
She added that she hoped the case would not be settled out of court.
“I think there should be some kind of charges laid,” she said.
Though she could not provide exact figures, she said that the number of acid attacks nationwide appears to be declining after a reported spike in
December and January, and that CASC has not recorded any new attacks since late March or early April.