Two people were injured late Wednesday after two men lobbed hand grenades over the wall of the Funcinpec national headquarters that exploded inside the compound, police said.
The grenades, which exploded about 10:45 pm, did little damage to Funcinpec buildings, but injured one woman and one man who were outside a building that houses headquarters staff and security.
“We were sitting on a bed outside the sleeping room to look up at the sky when I heard the explosions. My husband brought me to the hospital immediately,” said Mai Khorn, 39, who was wounded in the leg.
Sok Try, 63, another headquarters staff member, was sleeping outside when the grenades exploded. He received serious wounds to the head and shoulder and remained in Calmette Hospital on Thursday, Mai Khorn said.
“If they had thrown the grenades in the early evening, there might have been more wounds or deaths. It was good luck that [most of the families] had gone to bed,” Mai Khorn said.
Between 10 and 12 families regularly stay in the staff building, she added.
You Hockry, Co-Minister of the Interior and a member of the Funcinpec standing committee, said Thursday it was too early to tell what might have motivated the attack.
“I can’t assess the reason for the attack. We just started the investigation last night,” he said.
According to a police report, street vendors said two men bought some fruit on Street 70, then threw something into the Monivong Blvd compound. The explosions were followed by chaos on Street 70, which becomes a market area at night, the report stated.
Witnesses saw the attackers dash into the maze of slums that constitutes the Boeung Kok area squatter camp, the police report stated.
You Hockry said police have obtained descriptions of the attackers, including their approximate ages and clothing, from witnesses in the squatter camp.
Sau Phan, deputy national police chief, said the attack was most likely premeditated because the attackers had motorcycles with getaway drivers waiting for them in the squatter camp.
Reaction to the attack was muted Thursday, with Funcinpec leaders and election observers alike unwilling to comment until investigations were completed.
“It was planned. I cannot say if this was a political dispute, even though I am not afraid to,” Funcinpec Deputy Secretary General and Senator Serei Kosal said at a Thursday evening news conference.
The attack could have been motivated by an attempt to disrupt the relationship between Funcinpec and the CPP, Serei Kosal added.
Election observers and investigators also said it was too early to guess at a motivation for the attack.
“It would be foolish of anybody to prejudge this,” British Ambassador Stephen Bridges said.
Human rights group Adhoc also said it was investigating, though Adhoc investigations head Yi Kosalvathanak said Funcinpec headquarters employees had declined to talk to Adhoc investigators.
An official with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the UN was also questioning witnesses in the attack, but declined to speculate on the motive for the attack.
If investigators determine that the grenade attack is political, it would be another example of what election monitors say is a troubling pattern of violence and intimidation against opposition parties and their candidates.
Although promising that Funcinpec would “leave the investigation to local authorities,” Serei Kosal said Prince Norodom Ranariddh met with Prime Minister Hun Sen Thursday morning to discuss political violence in the wake of the attack.
Last week, Peter Leuprecht, the UN’s top human rights monitor for Cambodia called for independent investigations into the recent shooting deaths of Funcinpec candidate Meas Soy and Sam Rainsy Party candidate Uch Horn.
But on that same day Funcinpec leader Prince Ranariddh declared the death of Meas Soy and the shooting of Soeung Sam, a Funcinpec candidate from Pursat province, did not appear to be politically motivated, echoing local authorities and the CPP.
The shootings have been the most dramatic example of violent acts against party activists. Last month the Committee for Free and Fair Elections reported about 20 politically related incidents of violence throughout the country, including ripping down party signboards, verbal threats against activists, firing guns into the air and the prohibiting of political activities. (Additional reporting by Richard Sine and Matt Reed.)