Former Police Chief Shot At

A former Phnom Penh police chief and two companions es­caped assassination Wed­nesday night when their car was sprayed with automatic rifle fire on a busy city street, police officials confirmed Thursday. 

Mok Chito, once the city’s immigration police chief, his brother-in-law, and a driver were shot at driving on Moni­vong Boulevard at 7:25 pm Wed­nes­day, according to Khoun Sophon, the city’s criminal police chief. No one was seriously injured.

Interviewed by telephone Thursday, Mok Chito said he and his companions were lucky to escape alive.

According to Mok Chito, un­identified men on two motorcycles fired an AK-47 rifle at the car in which the three were traveling.

“They shot eight bullets into my car and broke all the windows…. But [we] were not hurt. This is good luck for me,” said Mok Chito adding the gunmen had a silencer on their weapon.

Mok Chito—who was suspended from the city police force in Dec 1998 and now serves at National Police headquarters as chief of the protocol office—said he had no idea what the motive for the attack was.

“I cannot comment on the incident. Right now, I am only the victim and the police are investigating,” said Mok Chito.

Khoun Sophon said initial investigations point to a personal dispute as the reason for the attack.

Mok Chito’s suspension followed a high-profile feud with then Deputy Director of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Drug Unit Heng Peo.

Mok Chito filed complaints with the Municipal Court and the Interior Min­istry alleging Heng Peo was inv­olved in the  shoot­ing of Thong Uy­pang, publisher of Koh San­ta­­pheap (Island of Peace) news­­­­paper, in June 1998.

Heng Peo, who in turn ac­cused Mok Chito of ordering a number of killings in Phnom Penh, was later suspended pending an Interior Ministry investigation. Officials played down the embarrassing dispute after it settled down and Heng Peo too has been reinstated, as deputy chief of the ministry’s criminal investigation department.

Sim Hong, deputy commander of the capital’s military police force, said Thursday that the shooting showed all the hallmarks of a professional attack by people with military expertise.

Many people know Mok Chito has formidable enemies since his time as a city police chief, said one Interior Ministry official, who was not surprised by the attack and asked not to be named.

(Additional reporting Kevin Doyle)

 

 

 

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