A grenade blast killed two Son Sann Party members and wounded three others Saturday night in what appeared to be the latest political attack in an already-bloody political season.
National Assembly member Kem Sokha (BLDP-Son Sann) said the attack in Takeo province was probably directed at Khieu Rama, the Son Sann Party chief for Kiri Vong district.
Khieu Rama’s sister and brother, Khieu Khy and Khieu Nuon, were killed in the attack, Kem Sokha said Sunday. The grenade was tossed into the sister’s house, which was next door to Khieu Rama’s home.
All three had been active in the Son Sann Party, Kem Sokha said. Khieu Rama himself was injured in the attack. The other two injured were also family members.
Kem Sokha said Khieu Rama had been threatened by commune officials loyal to the Cambodia People’s Party.
“He is very active in our party and we have many supporters in this area,” he said.
“Khieu Rama has had problems with the communal authorities before. They harassed him and asked him why he joined our party,” Kem Sokha said. “He told me many times he was afraid.”
Takeo governor Sou Phearin confirmed the attack Sunday, but told Agence France-Presse that only one had been killed.
“We don’t know what really happened,” he told AFP. “We are investigating to determine whether this was political or criminal.”
Sou Phearin noted, however, that Khieu Rama had also been involved in a long-running land dispute.
Kem Sokha said Sunday night that he would contact the UN Center for Human Rights today and ask its assistance in investigating the attack. A rights investigator said they would look into the killings.
The grenade attack is the latest in a string of violence leading up to the elections scheduled for July 26.
The UN Center for Human Rights has reported 50 suspicious killings of opposition members in the past six months, in addition to the slayings of more than 40 supporters of Prince Norodom Ranariddh in the wake of his effective ouster as first prime minister last July.
The CPP has also reported attacks on party officials in Sihanoukville and Kampot.
Critics have accused the government of using the attacks to intimidate voters.
“I think one goal is to eliminate the most effective activists….but I think the main objective is to frighten the populace,” opposition politician Sam Rainsy said earlier this month. “The underlying message is ‘You see, if you support the opposition parties, this is what can happen to you.’”
The international community has decried the killings and Thomas Hammarberg, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for human rights in Cambodia, has said the government’s failure to investigate most of the attacks has created a “culture of impunity” that threatens the elections.
The Son Sann Party, recently created out of one faction of the split BLDP, is allied with Prince Ranariddh’s Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy’s party. Both Son Sann and Sam Rainsy re-named their parties after themselves when rival factions claimed the party names.
The attack is the second against Son Sann’s supporters. In 1995, grenades were thrown at his house the night before a party congress, injuring more than a dozen people.
Son Sann has now retired from politics to sit on the as-yet-unformed Constitutional Council. The party that bears his name is now run by his son, National Assembly Second Vice President Son Soubert.