A CPP official in Siem Reap province was beaten to death on Monday by two assailants, provincial police officials said Wednesday, calling the killing the result of a personal dispute.
Lach Thorn, a 57-year-old commune council member in Knong Phnom commune, Svay Leu district, and reportedly the chief of Ta Pinh village, was killed by two suspects wielding sticks and a hammer while driving to Preah Ang Tom village, a police official in Siem Reap said.
“We have identified the killers and I hope to arrest them,” Ou Em, Siem Reap provincial penal police chief, said on Wednesday. “The first result of our investigation found that it is a robbery case—we cannot conclude that it was politically motivated.”
Ou Em said that security in the area of Siem Reap’s Angkor temples—near where the killing took place—is generally good. However, the killing occurred in a heavily forested area about 8 km from Siem Reap town, he said.
The Ministry of Interior is currently investigating the case, but it is still too early to assign a motive to the killing, Ministry of Interior Spokesman General Khieu Sopheak said on Thursday.
An official with the local human rights group Adhoc, which is also conducting an investigation into the killing, said on Thursday that preliminary reports show Lach Thorn had a conflict with several local villagers over the sale of a tract of land.
Lach Thorn allegedly was blocking some villagers from selling a piece of land, the official said, but could not provide details on who was hoping to buy the property or whether this dispute was indeed the motive behind Lach Thorn’s killing.
In December, CPP village council member Kreal Bun, 71, was also killed in Siem Reap province. Kreal Bun was struck in the head with an ax, authorities said.