Police by Tuesday afternoon still had not identified any of the four men they believe threw two grenades into Second Prime Minister Hun Sen’s city residence, although it appears bystanders beat to death one man suspected of the crime.
“Our forces have been investigating this case,” said Neth Savoeurn, chief of municipal police, on Tuesday. “There is no light yet on the real suspects in the grenade attack because we all are preoccupied with collecting forces to clear demonstrators and control the turmoil.”
One man who drove quickly away from the scene of the crime and crashed his motorcycle was severely beaten by bystanders, officials confirmed.
Neth Savoeurn said the victim is not considered a suspect. “The slain man drove his motorcycle very fast [from the crime scene] and people were suspicious of him and beat him to death,” he said. “But as we have investigated, this could not be a real suspect, just a mistake.”
The man, who was driving a red motorcycle like the one witnesses saw carrying the grenade- throwers, rode south onto Norodom Boulevard, like the attackers, where he became snarled in a traffic accident, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Monday. Bystanders then attacked the man, he said.
The victim died of his injuries later Monday at Preah Monivong Hospital and was taken to Wat Koh on Tuesday to be cremated, hospital patients said.
They said his head was cracked open and his arm was bloody. The man is not a suspect in the investigation, Khieu Sopheak said.
However, the Khmer-language daily Rasmei Kampuchea quoted National Police Director-General Hok Lundy as saying the man is considered a suspect. The newspaper identified the man as Sorn Saphon, 37.
Police believe four men on two motorcycles pulled up in front of Hun Sen’s house on Preah Suramarit Boulevard just before 10 am Monday, pointing pistols at two guards. They ordered them to lay down, then threw two grenades into the compound. A third grenade was later found unexploded.
No one was injured in the blasts.
Hok Lundy said Monday the attack stemmed directly from Sam Rainsy’s alleged calls over the loudspeakers in recent weeks for soldiers and police to “turn their guns on Hun Sen.”
The League of Cambodian Journalists said Tuesday the grenade-throwing and simultaneous demonstrations were “aiming to stage a coup toppling Hun Sen in a few weeks.”
First Prime Minister Ung Huot, the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections and the human rights group Adhoc all condemned the grenade attack and appealed to investigators to find the perpetrators.
Diplomats were unwilling to speculate on motives behind the grenade attack.
“That is a complicated issue. [There are] a lot of rumors; we can guess anything,” said a Western diplomat. “It might be anything, any political forces interested in increasing the tension.”
An Asian diplomat said only a thorough and transparent police investigation would dispel the rumors. “At this point in time we can only speculate. It would do well for the government to immediately investigate and resolve it as fast as possible. Speculation is not good for this country.”
(Reporting by Lor Chandara, Touch Rotha and Marc Levy)