There was little to be done. Nurses and family members re-bandaged An Kosal’s right leg, shattered and severed below the knee in Tuesday’s grenade attack in central Phnom Penh. But he had already lost too much blood, much of it seeping through the bandages on both legs.
“We have no hope this man can recover,” one doctor quietly said Thursday morning, standing to the side of An Kosal’s bed at Calmette Hospital.
The 24-year-old stone sculptor, unconscious since the explosion, died later that day, the fifth victim of Phnom Penh’s deadliest grenade attack since 1997.
Police say a dispute between an unknown man and a woman, Heng An, climaxed Tuesday when two men on a motorbike threw a grenade towards the phone booth the 19-year-old garment worker was in at the time.
The explosion on the busy corner of streets 19 and 178 left sandwich vendor Meas Thy dying on the roadside. Heng An and two others, Srei Neang, 39, and Uk Sokha, 38, were later pronounced dead at Calmette.
An Kosal struggled to live, but medical staff say his heart stopped around 3:30 pm, as doctors were considering amputating his left leg. On the evening of the attack, he had merely offered to walk Heng An—reportedly a friend of a friend—to the phone booth while she made a call.
An Kosal had arrived in Phnom Penh from Pursat province two months ago to work in a new shop on Street 178 that specializes in sculpting marble Buddha images for tourist shops in Phnom Penh’s Russian Market.
Hun Sopheara, owner of the sculpting shop, and other members of staff described Thursday how they had given their own blood to keep their friend and workmate alive.
Hun Sopheara was prevented from donating more blood Thursday. Doctors said he was too weak from the two transfusions he gave on Wednesday.
“I knew [An Kosal] since 1987 when he came to Pursat province to learn sculpting….He was very skilled. I had discussed with him that when he had a wife and family he could take over this business from me,” Hun Sopheara said.
Keeping vigil by his son’s side since he was brought to the hospital around 9 pm Tuesday, An Kosal’s father, Nop An, had slept in Calmette’s corridors and waiting room the previous two days.
A farmer in the Ang Snuol district of Kandal province, Nop An, 63, borrowed more than $300 to pay for medicines and blood to keep his son alive.
The debt the family is now in would be worth it if his son survived, Nop An had said Thursday, when his son was still alive. But there was no regret Thursday afternoon as Nop An and his wife placed their son’s body in a minibus to be brought home for cremation in Kandal province.
“He was skilled at this work and he studied English when he was not working. He sent his salary home to me and the rest he spent on studying,” Nop An said.
Two more people badly injured by the blast are still in Calmette Hospital, the hospital’s director, Heng Taikry, said Thursday.
Vowing to apprehend the perpetrators, Sim Hong, deputy Military Police commander for Phnom Penh, said the attack was an indiscriminate and callous act of violence against innocent people.
There are no suspects yet in the attack.
Though municipal police officials said Wednesday they suspect the attack was linked to a dispute between lovers, friends and relatives of the dead and injured believe the attack was a business dispute related to the owner of the telephone kiosk.