Two hand prints etched by nitric acid have left a distinct mark on the dull corrugated iron gate of a modest house on the corner of Street 318 near Olympic Market. They are a sullen reminder of Tang Samarina’s desperate struggle to flee her attackers.
As the acid on Tang Samarina’s hands ate into the metal gate, it was also damaging her flesh and hair, witnesses to the Dec 6 attack said Wednesday.
A 41-year-old dressmaker said she sat a few feet from Tang Samarina when a middle-aged woman and two young men approached the young karaoke actress as she sat at a roadside food stall to eat rice porridge. Few words were spoken before the two men began to beat Tang Samarina, said the dressmaker, who asked not to be named.
Other customers at the stall ran as Tang Samarina slumped to the ground. After the melee started, the dressmaker said, one of the bodyguards retreived a cannister from a vehicle parked nearby and emptied its contents over the girl, who police say was involved in a relationship with the middle-aged woman’s husband.
“Her hair started to curl and became shorter and shorter because of the acid and her skin turned white. She was screaming ‘help me, help me,’ ” said the dressmaker.
Hysterical, her hair and clothes melting, Tang Samarina struggled to the gates of a house beside the food stall and pleaded to enter.
The owner of the house allowed Tang Samarina to enter, witnesses said, and gave her water to wash away the burning acid and soothe her skin and gave her new clothes.
Meanwhile, the attackers were also injured and unable to drive as acid splashed on them during the attack began to irritate their bodies, said witnesses.
Abandoning the vehicle, the three ran up a nearby street leaving behind their acid-tainted shoes and items of clothing, said a 35-year-old drink seller.
“Two men and a woman with no shoes on came running up the road and asked me for water… One man had nothing on but a vest. I gave him a bottle of water and he poured it over his head. I also gave him a pair of my underwear but they didn’t fit,” said the drink vendor.
“If I had known they were the attackers, I wouldn’t have given them anything,” he said, adding the three continued running barefoot from the scene of the crime.
Lok Lon, the Chamkar Mon district police chief, and other officials have said the middle-aged woman apparently was Khun Sophal, the wife of Svay Sitha, Council of Ministers undersecretary of state.
Police have yet to apprehend any suspects while the Phnom Penh municipal court said earlier this week no arrest warrants have been issued.