Heng Sinith/AP
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, attends an election rally in the capital Phnom
Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, June 26, 2008. (AP)

Violence Precedes Cambodian Elections

July 18, 2008 06:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The shooting death of a local journalist and an acid attack on a government official are raising concerns about politically motivated attacks two weeks prior to national elections.

30-Second Summary

Human Rights Watch says that "the political climate has sharply deteriorated" in Phnom Penh in the weeks before National Assembly elections on July 27.

International observers are condemning the shooting deaths of 47-year-old journalist Khim Sambo and his 21-year-old son Khat Sarinpheata on July 11, saying that the attack was an attempt to silence critics of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP). Khim Sambo worked for the newspaper Moneasekar Khmer, which is aligned with the opposition Sam Rainsy party.

And on Sunday, a senior government official aligned with the CPP survived an acid attack that some also suspect of being politically motivated, reported the Daily Telegraph in Australia. Ngor Srun, secretary of state for the cabinet, was attacked at a garage while getting his Lexus SUV repaired in Phnom Penh.

"As in previous pre-election periods, this killing appears to be intended to send a message not to engage in opposition politics," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, about Khim Sambo's death.

The U.S. embassy has expressed concern about the attacks: "The FBI, through the U.S. embassy, stands ready to provide assistance, if requested by the Cambodian government, in investigating the case," it said, according to World Politics Review.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called upon Prime Minister Hun Sen to begin an independent investigation of Khim Sambo's death, saying that he was targeted for his efforts to expose government corruption.

Headline Links: 'Cambodian Official Attacked With Acid'

Opinion & Analysis: Examining the violence

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