Blast at RUFA Injures Demolition Worker

A small device exploded at the Roy­al University of Fine Arts on Fri­­day afternoon and caused mi­nor injuries to one laborer working on school building demolition.

The blast took place two days be­­fore the deadline for families on the North Campus to either accept of­fered compensation or leave.

Laborer Chhay Im, 25, was dismantling the roof of a school building—which is being removed so the area can be developed—when he stumbled across the device, wrapped in paper, he said Friday at Calmette Hospital, where he was being treated.

He threw the object away from him, but it exploded in mid-air, caus­ing minor shrapnel wounds to his leg.

“In the beginning I didn’t know it was a bomb. I unwrapped it and threw it away. It exploded,” he told re­porters, adding that the incident happened at about 4 pm.

He said he believed the device was homemade, and that it had been there for a long time.

“The explosive had been stored there. It was very dirty,” he said.

At 5:30 pm, the RUFA campus was sealed off. Several RCAF soldiers, one of whom was carrying an AK-47, guarded the gate from the inside and refused to let re­port­ers enter.

One worker dismantling school build­ings, who identified himself as Pheap, 32, said as he left the site that the explosion was not particularly strong.

The Mong Reththy Group, which obtained RUFA’s land from the government in exchange for building a new campus in Russei Keo district, has been offering com­pensation of up to $4,000 to RUFA teachers and their families living on the site.

About 25 families have so far re­fused to budge, Thann Sin Thou, a RUFA teacher and community leader, said earlier this week.

They are asking for either a quar­ter of the site to live on or com­pensation at land market value.

Phnom Penh Vice Governor Mann Chhoeun visited the site Mon­day and urged both sides to meet face to face and solve the matter, Thann Sin Thou said.

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