Officials have arrested a 42-year-old woman who police say sold explosives used in bombs that tore through two Phnom Penh hotels last year, killing three and wounding 11 others.
Authorities have charged Ban Thavry, of Toekla commune, Russei Keo district, with terrorism and membership in an armed group for her alleged role in the July 4 bombings of the Hong Kong and Favour hotels in Phnom Penh, municipal police information bureau chief Pol Davy said.
Police allege Ban Thavry is a weapons dealer in Toek Thla commune—a well-known underground market for black market weaponry—and sold 20 kg of TNT powder and a detonator to the men responsible for planning and executing the bombings, Pol Davy said.
The blasts, which went off minutes apart in the neighboring hotels on Monivong Boulevard, killed police officer Kim Veng Leang, 30, Favour Hotel employees Kim Hout, also 30, and Chhun Sakhon.
At the time, police said the attackers were trying extort money from the hotel owners. Each hotel got a phone call from a person who claimed to represent a group called “Maria” and who demanded hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So far, six people, including Ban Thavry, have been charged in the blasts. Former RCAF soldiers Chreik Mao, 31, Rin Sothy, 30, Rin Savuth, 22, Koeut Sinoun, 31, and Ouk Sathya, 41, are all charged in the bombings.
But the mastermind remains at large, Pol Davy said Thursday afternoon. Authorities have issued a warrant for that man’s arrest.
Ban Thavry confessed to selling the dynamite and detonators to the group, but said she did not know what the men were using it for, Pol Davy said.
The arrests have brought some emotional relief, but the bombings’ victims are still uneasy as long as the ringleader is free, Favour Hotel owner Thav Kimlong, whose brother-in-law was Kim Hout, said.