Police in Preah Sihanouk province on Sunday gave contrasting accounts about the arrests of 36 Chinese construction workers—and the later release of 33 of them—early on Saturday morning for alleged violence near Sihanoukville’s O’Chheuteal Beach.
According to Sam Prak, Buon commune’s police chief, the Chinese men constituted a mob that indiscriminately attacked passersby with iron bars, sticks and rocks near the “two lions” roundabout at about 2 a.m. Up to 60 police officers needed to be called to the scene, and the mob was controlled only after police fired four times into the air, Mr. Prak said.
“They were drunk,” he said.
Mr. Prak added that the mob had formed after an unspecified dispute over a cigarette purchase, and that six or seven people had been beaten.
However, Kol Phally, deputy provincial police chief, said that after questioning 33 of the 36 arrested were found to not have been involved in violence and were released.
The remaining three were being questioned at the provincial court, he said.
Authorities had responded to three complaints and had intervened before anyone was beaten, Mr. Phally added.
According to Mr. Phally, the dispute started when revelers at a nightclub bumped into each other while dancing.