Two Arrested in K Cham Sorcery Grenade Attack

Police in Kompong Cham pro­vince arrested two men Wednes­day for allegedly carrying out a grenade attack on members of a family that were accused of being sorcerers and witches.

Provincial deputy police chief Seng Sokhim said the two attackers, whose names he could not re­member, lobbed a hand grenade into the yard of their neighbor’s house on Tuesday evening in Me­mot district’s Choam Tamao commune, injuring nine of the 10 family members present.

“This is unbelievable,” Seng Sok­him said. “The family are not sorcerers,” he said.

The family were branded practitioners of black magic around two years ago when one of the attackers accused the family of casting a spell that made him sick, Seng Sokhim said. “The [suspect] was sick and he suspected that the neighbors knew how to do black magic,” he said, adding that police are still searching for one more suspect.

Khat Nol, 49, said by telephone from Kompong Cham that the gre­nade blast caused injuries to his daughter, his two sons, a nephew, two cousins and two sisters-in-law.

Khat Nol said that in 2005 his neighbor, who he identified only as Chhay, came to his house with a pistol and accused him of using magic to give him a stomachache. Since then rumors spread throughout Sre Tatich village that he and his family were witches, Khat Nol said.

“They accused me of knowing sorcery—I felt scared,” he said, adding that his family is now too afraid to return home.

Neang Sovat, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said that some rural communities believe in sorcery and that the government should launch a campaign to assure people that illnesses are not caused by bad spells.

 

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