Men With AK-47s Say Police Chief Gave Them Guns

Authorities in Stung Treng province are seeking to interview a local police official after a group of men found roaming the forest with assault rifles claimed to have been armed by him.

The chief of police in Thala Barivat district, Sem Sitha, said on Tuesday that police and environmental officials patrolling a forested area near the Mekong River in O’Svay commune came upon a group of seven men riding in a truck with three AK-47 assault rifles and two homemade air guns hidden in a sack beside them, along with electric fishing gear.

He said three of the men fled upon being apprehended, while the other four claimed to be hunters who had been given one of the rifles by Tith Han, the police chief in neighboring Koh Sneng commune.

“They claimed that one of the AK-47s was borrowed from one of our commune police chiefs, and I will call him to clarify whether it is true or not,” Mr. Sitha said. “If we find that he was involved with the suspects, we will take action according to the law.”

Two of the men, Leng Nat, 30, and Long Bunpeng, 20, were charged at the provincial court on Tuesday with possession of illegal weapons, while the other two, Ney Pheng, 48, and Ly Sokhom, 23, were charged with possession of illegal fishing equipment, according to Hor Vuthy, chief of the provincial police’s minor crimes bureau.

Mr. Han could not be reached for comment.

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