Two people died and 15 others were injured, two seriously, when two men on a motorcycle dropped an explosive device on Street 70 in the Tuol Kok district of Phnom Penh Monday night.
The 9 pm explosion opposite a karaoke parlor in the city’s well-known red light strip claimed the life of a 15-year-old boy, who died immediately, and a second unidentified man who died later in the city’s Calmette Hospital, Municipal Judicial Police Chief Lek Vannak confirmed Monday.
According to Lek Vannak, two men driving a white Honda AX I motorcycle were seen dropping the device as they sped past the karaoke parlor which was filled with customers.
Blast victim Bun Chandarith, a student at Wat Phnom High School, was standing outside the karaoke parlor when the device exploded, causing a lethal chest wound, Lek Vannak said.
Police have not yet identified the type of explosive device or if the two men dropped the explosive intentionally in the middle of the narrow busy street, Lek Vannak said.
“We cannot conclude if the attack was against the Vietnamese-owned karaoke and coffee shop or if the offenders just dropped the device [accidentally],” Lek Vannak said.
However, Lek Vannak said the incident may be motivated by people trying to create an atmosphere of insecurity in the city.
Relatives, friends and students from Wat Phnom school gathered Tuesday morning for the funeral ceremony of the dead boy just yards from where the explosion took place.
“He was standing watching Thai disco music on karaoke TV when he was killed….We were just about to call him for dinner when the grenade exploded,” his aunt said Tuesday.
Russei Keo District Police Chief Tim Prosar said Tuesday that many of the people injured in the explosion sustained cuts from flying glass from a bread roll trolley which was parked nearby.
Two of the 15 people injured are still in the hospital, Tim Prosar said.
The explosion is the first in almost a year, Tim Prosar said, noting that two grenade attacks took place last year in the same vicinity.
No one was injured in the either attacks, Tim Prosar said.
Standing in front of a glass cigarette stall which was damaged by Monday’s explosion, Be Chinith, 34, said that the Tuol Kok area has been quiet since last year’s grenade attacks. A spate of grenade attacks aimed at Vietnamese-owned businesses in early 1999 left one man dead and 36 wounded.
Four men later arrested by police for the attacks said they were paid by a ringleader to intimidate ethnic-Vietnamese residents in Phnom Penh.