Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday expressed condolences for a Canadian child killed during a hostage crisis at Siem Reap International School, adding that the men responsible were bandits rather than terrorists.
A 2-year-old Canadian boy was shot dead while four men held about 20 to 25 kindergarten children hostage at the school on Thursday, Hek Ra, a military police official at the scene said.
“On behalf of the government and the Cambodian people, I would like to express regret and share condolences for the death of a young Czech-Canadian…who was shot to death,” Hun Sen said at the Ministry of National Defense, where he was attending the closing of a national defense seminar.
The attack was not organized by al-Qaida, Jemaah Islamiyah “or [any] other group, but this is a kind of crime separate from terrorism,” Hun Sen said.
Hun Sen said the men were bandits from Kien Svay district in Kandal province, and said he had wanted to talk to them on the phone during the standoff.
Instead, he decided to let National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy negotiate with the men, Hun Sen said.
“I told Hok Lundy to give [them] the phone to talk and [ask them] what they want,” Hun Sen said. “When Hok Lundy talked to them by phone, they said they needed $5,000 each.”
Hun Sen compared the attack to the 2004 Beslan school siege in Russia, adding that Cambodian authorities were able to deal with the Siem Reap situation with less bloodshed.
“It is bad luck for us, but it is also our good luck to avoid bigger damage,” he said.
Hun Sen added that private security guards need to be approved of by government authorities, to ensure that they are up to the job.
“This is an experience for us in solutions. First in selecting [private] security guards, they must be [approved] by local authorities clearly first, otherwise, it’s like bringing the tiger and wolf into the house,” Hun Sen said.