Business is still not what it was for the street vendors who have returned to their old roadside spots at streets 178 and 19, after last month’s deadly grenade attack killed five people at that intersection.
But four weeks after the worst attack on civilians in Phnom Penh since a grenade attack killed at least 16 people at an opposition party rally in 1997, a degree of normalcy has returned to the once lively street corner behind the Royal Palace.
Though no one has been arrested for the Sept 19 attack, Municipal Penal Police Chief Khuon Sophon said Wednesday he has a motive and a suspect.
Daun Penh District Governor Suon Rindy said Tuesday that police are certain that one of the five dead, sandwich seller Meas Thy Soth, 45, was the intended target of the attack, and that a fellow vendor is responsible.
“We suspect the bread seller…
because in the past she had a personal dispute [with the suspect],” Suon Rindy said.
Two men on a motorcycle were seen rolling a grenade into the crowd of street vendors and customers at 8:30 pm. Exploding behind a public telephone booth, the grenade sent shards of glass and metal ripping into bystanders, injuring as many as a dozen and leaving Meas Thy Soth dying on the roadside.
Garment factory worker Heng An, 19, who was making a call from the telephone booth, died later that night at Calmette Hospital, along with the telephone’s operator Uk Sokha, 38, and a passerby, 39-year-old Srei Neang.
An Kosal, 24, a stone sculptor, died three days later at Calmette from injuries suffered in the explosion.
Police initially thought the attack was an act of revenge by a scorned lover against the 19-year-old garment worker.
While the latest version of events changes the target of the attack, the motive still remains one of jealousy, revenge and an alleged extra-marital affair, officials said.
Sok Borin, the 44-year-old husband of Meas Thy Soth, said the grenade was intended for his wife and was the result of an ongoing personal dispute with another street vendor with whom his wife believed he was having an affair.
Hostilities between the two women required police intervention in 1997. Although settled on the surface, animosity continued and culminated in the attack, Sok Borin claimed.
“I have already reported this to the Interior Ministry,” Sok Borin said.
Defending himself against claims that police have been slow to react Khuon Sophon said, “The police are not sleeping on this case.”
“Our investigation has found one suspect and documents have been sent to the Municipal Court,” he said.
But, the documents which were sent more than one week ago have not yet resulted in an arrest warrant from the court, Khuon Sophon said.
Offering a less upbeat account of the grenade attack investigation, Municipal Police Chief Suon Chhengly said documents have not yet been sent to the court.
Municipal Court Chief Prosecutor Uk Savuth confirmed an arrest warrant has not yet been issued.
Meanwhile, Sok Borin has moved the sandwich cart back to the spot near where his wife died four weeks ago.