False Alarm Near Airport When Suspicious Box Found

Traffic snarled Friday morning on Russian Boulevard near the perimeter fence of Phnom Penh International Airport when police discovered a suspicious device submerged in a pond that they initially believed were explosives.

Police were first alerted when a piece of rope was spotted above ground connected to an object in the pond, said Dangkao district deputy police chief Chhuop Sok Heng. When the object, a metal box, was hauled out, police found that it contained four artillery shell-like items made from concrete, Chhuop Sok Heng said.

“When I first saw it, I was about to call [the Cambodian Mine Action Center] as I thought they were explosives that had just been planted,” he said by telephone.

“Finally, we found no explosive substances and it was not a threat to security,” he said, adding that the items were also not a bomb hoax or the work of someone trying to create panic.

According to Chhuop Sok Heng, the box and cement shells were likely placed in the pond by a construction company that was trying to test the quality of a new cement formula.

“Although they were just mixing new cement to test the quality, it is necessary that we find out who did this so that they know they must inform us in advance whenever they conduct a test or plant anything,” he said.

Onlookers, however, were not convinced that the box and its contents were as benign as the police made it out to be.

“Although those suspicious things are made of cement, I suspect there is explosives inside,” said onlooker Ann Hong, a member of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, who was surprised at how similar the cement shells were to the real thing.

“I think security today is shocking because there were a lot of planted bombs earlier this month,” he said, referring to the three small explosive devices found Jan 2, and safely detonated, outside the Defense Ministry and near the TV3 station, also on Russian Boulevard.


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