A section of normally bustling Monivong Boulevard was brought to a standstill early Friday morning as explosives experts detonated a sophisticated bomb that authorities believe is linked to a personal dispute.
The bomb, which had been placed under a vehicle outside the Hong Kong Hotel on Monivong Boulevard Friday morning, was “skillfully made” and contained around 200 gm of the powerful explosive TNT, according to a Cambodian Mine Action Center official who would not give his name. The bomb, he said, would have destroyed the vehicle and killed its passengers.
Police said the bomb was placed under a vehicle owned by a Chinese businessman staying at the hotel who was involved in an argument earlier in the night at the nearby Asie Seafood restaurant. A restaurant staff member said the argument was brief but a bodyguard struck another man who was a hotel guest.
Authorities were alerted by a hotel guard who saw a man on a motorbike stop next to the car at about 3 am and slide a package underneath it.
“I believe this is a personal dispute and not politically motivated,” said Penal Police Chief Yim Symany adding police are currently searching for a suspect who is believed to be the former owner of a garment factory in Toul Kok district.
The TNT was packed in a rectangular-shaped package with three large magnets taped to the top for attaching to the underneath of the vehicle. The bomb had fallen off the car, however, and was sitting on the pavement.
Hundreds of onlookers gathered at both ends of the cordoned off section of Monivong Boulevard as the CMAC team first removed the car and then surrounded the bomb with large sandbags.
The bomb experts worked for more than two hours, making two attempts at a controlled explosion. On the second attempt a small explosive charge was used.
The force of the explosion smashed a section of curbstone and blew off a wooden screen on a second-floor apartment across the street.
A western explosives expert said Friday the car bomb could have caused serious damage and loss of life if it had exploded in a crowded area. Others said it was the first car bomb of its type they had seen in Cambodia.
Official said this was the first car bomb of its type that he had seen in Cambodia.