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Chief of Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit Denies He Threatened War Against America

Background: Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen walks past an honor guard upon his arrival to attend the first parliamentarian meeting to form a new government after the national elections in July at the National Assembly building in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, September 24, 2008. (REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea) Foreground: Top row, from left to right: Gen. Kun Kim, RCAF Deputy Supreme Commander; Gen. Mok Chito, Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police; Gen. Neth Savoeun, Supreme Commissioner of National Police; Gen. Pol Saroeun, RCAF Supreme Commander. Gen. Sao Sokha, Commander of National Gendarmerie; General Sok Phal, Supreme Director of the Supreme Directorate for Immigration. Bottom row, from left to right: Lt. Gen. Bun Seng, Deputy Army Commander, Commander of Military Region 5; Lt. Gen. Chap Pheakdey, Deputy Army Commander, Brigade 911 Commander; Lt. Gen. Choeun Sovantha, Deputy Army Commander, Commander of Military Region 2; Lt. Gen. Rat Sreang, National Gendarmerie Deputy Commander.

General Hing Bun Heang told VOA Khmer on Monday that his meaning had been misunderstood.

General Hing Bun Heang, the head of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s powerful paramilitary bodyguard unit, denied on Monday that he had intended to threaten war against the US after a video of him saying that Cambodia would fight back against American aggression went viral online.

In the controversial video, uploaded to the bodyguard unit’s Facebook page on August 14, General Bun Heang is shown telling a group of reporters that he is committed to protecting the Cambodian government and its leaders.

He adds, “I really want to be friends with the US, but I am also ready to attack them if the US does something recklessly. There is nothing to negotiate, then.”

In the video, he goes on to criticize the June decision by the US government to impose sanctions on him over alleged human rights abuses that he committed in his role as a military commander, including alleged participation in a grenade attack in 1998 that killed over a dozen people at an opposition political rally.

However, after the video of his comments garnered significant criticism from Cambodians on social media this week, General Bun Heang told VOA Khmer on Monday that his meaning had been misunderstood.

He denied that he said he would attack the US. Instead, he said he was referring to attacking a group of unnamed “ill-willed people” living in the US, not the country as a whole.

“How can we attack the US? What are we? They are a superpower. Only those ill-willed people who like to exaggerate the truth, like the sanctions, et cetera. As you can see, sanctions on Hing Bun Heang, what business does he have? I meant we are ready to attack those certain individuals who exaggerate things and make accusations.”

Asked what individuals he was referring to, he declined to comment.