Police officers in Kampot province raided a cockfighting match on Sunday and confiscated fighting cocks and related equipment, but were thwarted in their attempt to seize dozens of motorbikes from the venue when angry villagers confronted them with weapons and water buffalos, police said Monday.
Mao Chanmathurith, deputy provincial police chief, said that about 15 of his officers raided a cockfighting match in Chumkiri district’s Chumpovoan commune at about 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The suspected organizer of the cockfight, Kann Phea, 48, escaped police and is on the run, but seven men were arrested for gambling and six cock cages were seized along with four cocks, he said.
Police also attempted to seize 29 motorbikes from outside the cockfighting venue, but villagers prevented them from taking the vehicles, Brigadier General Chanmathurith said.
“When our police officers took the motorbikes to put them on the police truck, nearly 100 villagers were fighting with us to take the motorbikes back,” he said.
Brig. Gen. Chanmathurith said that not only were the villagers wielding weapons, but they also steered a herd of water buffalo toward the police truck, forcing police to flee without the motorbikes.
“We decided to give up those motorbikes at the scene because we did not want to have a confrontation with the angry villagers, who had machetes, axes and wooden clubs,” he said.
No one was ultimately injured in the mostly verbal confrontation, which climaxed with some pushing and shoving, Brig. Gen. Chanmathurith said.
Eam Chandara, an officer in the provincial serious crimes police bureau, said two of the seven arrested men were released Monday morning because they were ill and their parents guaranteed that they would appear when summoned by the court.
“But the five other suspects will be sent to the provincial court tomorrow to face charges,” he said.
Mr. Chandara added that police are also searching for Mr. Phea’s younger brother Kann Phat, 40, and his son Kann Mol, 23, because they were suspected of inciting villagers to confront police.
“We are searching to arrest the ringleader, and those who led the villagers to fight back against police,” he said.
“We were forced to leave the scene without the motorbikes because some villagers pushed buffalos behind us.”