Explosive arguments

January 27, 2014

Here’s a story that doesn’t seem to have been given much play by the world’s press, but is horrible. On Saturday night in a remote part of Kampong Thom Province, 11 people were killed in a grenade attack on a pre-wedding party.

Thirty-three people were injured in the attack, and police said they have arrested a 24-year-old suspect who had an argument with the groom a few days before the party. Both bride and groom were badly injured, but survived.

Details are sketchy; it is a remote part of Cambodia, but the governor of the province reportedly said that the suspect was in love with the bride and had a history of aggression toward the groom.

“Both men loved the bride and were jealous of each other,” the governor told a local newspaper, adding that commune police had previously detained the two men and “educated them to stop fighting each other.”

Another paper went on to report that guest Morn Cithy, 27, lost her father in the attack, while her mother, two sisters and two brothers were all injured.

“I was the lucky one in my family to not get injured, because at that time, I was just standing and laughing at my father dancing,” she told the paper.

Morn said she was unable to afford a funeral, and had to bury her father in the jungle, late on Sunday.

There’s not much to add to this, or to say. It’s tremendously sad that there are enough weapons still kicking around Cambodia to make this not especially unusual. And jealousy is, sadly, universal. I can’t help feeling that it might have been given more airtime had it happened somewhere else: 11 people is a lot. [Shakes head sadly]

Meanwhile, here in the capital, the simmering unrest continues. Yesterday a dozen people were hospitalised after hundreds of workers and opposition supporters took to the streets in defiance of a ban on protests.

Led by labour unions and rights groups, protesters had gathered to urge fresh wage talks for garment workers and demand the release of 23 people detained by police during the last crackdown, in early January, which saw five people shot dead. Rights activists say police, equipped with batons and electric prods, used force on protesters, who retaliated by throwing rocks at them.

And just today another half-dozen people were hospitalised after a peaceful rally was dispersed after more than 100 military police charged, “unloading volleys of smoke canisters and swinging batons to clear away stragglers.”

Security guards – the untrained, helmet-wearing men who have been used to violently enforce the ban on public assembly in recent weeks – also joined in, reportedly clubbing those, including journalists, who didn’t manage to get out of the way in time.

It’s a lovely country, but surprisingly violent at times. Land of contrasts, eh?

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