The Interior Ministry said Tuesday that it has arrested two suspects—members of the so-called Khmer Empire Movement—for their alleged involvement in Sunday’s failed bombing of the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument in Phnom Penh.
Chhay Sinarith, director of the ministry’s General Information Department, said that Soeung Than, 42, and Kim Toeun, 53, both ethnic Khmer Krom, were arrested Monday in Russei Keo district’s Russei Keo commune.
“Both confessed that they did it because their boss ordered it from the United States of America,” Chhay Sinarith said by telephone.
Soeung Than and Kim Toeun, a former Khmer Rouge soldier, belonged to the so-called Khmer Empire Movement and confessed that they received orders from the US and a promise of $6,000 for carrying out the attack, he added. Chhay Sinarith declined to elaborate further on the US link but did say that police are looking for three more male suspects.
Soeung Than and Kim Toeun are being detained at the Ministry of Interior and will be sent to the municipal court today, Chhay Sinarith said.
In May, Pursat Provincial Court charged four Cham Muslim men with plotting to form the Khmer Empire Movement, whose aim is to violently take back Khmer and Cham territory lost centuries ago to Vietnam and Thailand. Others who signed up for the so-called movement said they thought they were signing up for work with an NGO.
Thab The, 54, the suspected ringleader of the movement and one of the four charged men, told local rights group Licadho during a prison visit in July, that he worked for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and was recruited to seek out terrorists in Cambodia.
The US Embassy said at the time that the FBI could neither confirm nor deny Thab The’s claims.
US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said Tuesday that his Embassy was only aware of the arrests through media reports and not through local government officials. “We’re certainly looking into it,” he added.
(Additional reporting by James Welsh)