‘Old and Gentle’ Village Chief Doused in Latest Acid Attack

A village chief in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district was doused with battery acid by two men on a motorbike on Friday morning, according to police.

As he was exercising outside his house at about 5:30 a.m., Nhim Sophat, the chief of Boeng Salang village, who is in his mid-60s, had acid thrown on his head and left arm, according to Russei Keo commune chief Moul Virak.

“The victim was exercising in front of his house…and suddenly there were two men driving a motorbike who came out of nowhere and one got off the bike and doused the victim with acid on his head,” he said, citing an account given by a witness.

Mr. Virak said he did not know what motivated the attack, calling the village chief an “old and gentle person.”

Teang Chansa, Russei Keo district police chief, said authorities made sure that Mr. Sophat was receiving proper medical treatment before beginning their search for the assailants.

“For the time being, we are pushing the work of investigators with the utmost attention in order to find the perpetrators,” he said, adding that he did not know what motivated the attack.

However, Iv Chhunpheng, the deputy district police chief, said that he believed the attack was the result of romantic jealousy.

“Our first conclusion is that this is most likely because of a love triangle and the victim had a secret mistress,” he said, declining to explain how police had come to that conclusion or whether the victim’s wife was being questioned regarding the attack.

Sambath Kosal, a security guard at Calmette Hospital, where Mr. Sophat was sent after the attack, said the victim had been transferred out of the emergency room on Saturday morning but was still being treated at the hospital on Sunday.

Acid attacks, once a common occurrence, have sharply declined since the adoption in 2012 of the acid law, which stipulates severe punishments for offenders and restricts the sale of strong acid. However, groups working with acid attack survivors say that efforts to restrict acid sales have fallen short.

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