A political power struggle turned violent last July 5 and 6, wrecking the lives of dozens and impeding the nation’s redevelopment. Today, The Cambodia Daily begins to review the events of that bloody weekend and look at some of the individuals affected by it.
Running for cover to escape a bullet-sprayed field, Suon Mom and her four children crammed into a small bunker with 15 people under her neighbor’s house. It was Saturday morning, July 5.
To her astonishment, the 41-year-old woman saw many soldiers and a few tanks and armored personnel carriers deployed along the railroad tracks off Pochentong Boulevard in Russei Keo district.
As fighting intensified in mid-afternoon, the unspeakable happened. Her 61-year-old husband, who had taken cover at their house with three friends, was hit by shrapnel in the face and throat. With bullets flying everywhere, no one dared rush him to the hospital. “We pleaded with the soldiers to help us, but they just shrugged their shoulders,” Suon Mom said.
It has been almost a year since the fierce factional fighting rocked the capital of Phnom Penh, but many of the victims’ families still remember it as the worst ordeal of their lives.
Suon Mom’s family is one of hundreds if not thousands in Phnom Penh trying to recover financially and emotionally from the fighting, which killed dozens of people.
As she was being interviewed last week, Suon Mom picked at a lunch of only rice and small chicken bones—all she can afford. Her eyes were moist for the entire half hour. Two of her children sat quietly at her side.
Suon Mom tearfully recalled the sorrow of losing her husband. “My beloved husband was hit in that place,” she said, pointing just outside the house to a water jar still scarred by mortar shell shrapnel.