Gunfire Served by Restaurant Rivals In Phnom Penh

Competition in Tuol Kok leads one restaurateur to shoot gun in the air

Tan Thy was angry. His sister’s restaurant, Ty Krong Angkor, was losing business to the Kruosa Reik Riey restaurant across the street.

At about 9:30 pm on Sunday, Mr Thy crossed busy Street 257 in the capital’s Tuol Kok district and ac­cused Kruosa’s owner of trying to steal customers away from his si­s­ter’s establishment, Toek La’ak III commune chief Chan Hai said yesterday.

One of the guards at the restaurant didn’t take kindly to this comment by the business rival and hit Mr Thy with a plastic chair, after which Mr Thy vowed to return and exact revenge with a knife, the commune chief said.

That did not come to pass. But Kruosa Reik Riey’s owner, Seang Makara, a military police officer, did take out a pistol and proceeded to fire two times in the air, effectively ending the dispute and sending the customers at both restaurants running for cover.

“It is like anarchy when people use guns to deal with problems or to threaten someone,” Mr Hai said. “Shooting in public is dangerous and makes people’s lives insecure.”

Authorities are now searching for the military police officer cum restaurateur Mr Makara, who fled after firing his weapon, said Tan Otaror, district military police commander. The other people at the scene of the fracas over customers were questioned and released, he added.

“After questioning…all the suspects and the owner of the restaurant were released without punishment,” he said.

Although no one was reported hurt in Sunday’s shooting, bullets fired into the air fall with enough force to cause injury and death. On Dec 31, a bullet falling from celebratory gunfire killed a 4-year-old boy attending church near Atlanta, Georgia, The Associated Press reported.

Random gunfire, causing death and injury, by members of the armed forces is a common occurrence in Cambodia.

At lunchtime on April 4, an RCAF brigadier general allegedly fired a handgun at random while drinking on Street 278, in the capital’s increasingly touristy Chamkar Mon district.

That shooting, unlike Sunday’s dispute, did have a victim; one of the military officer’s bullets grazed the foot of a British teacher who was sunbathing at a nearby boutique hotel. The officer, Tep Phear­um, has since been charged with illegal weapon use.

Pol Davy, deputy chief of Phnom Penh’s military police, said yesterday that it is illegal for military police officers to use their guns unless ordered to do so by a superior.

“My subordinates will work on this to better control security,” he promised.

(Additional reporting by Clancy McGilligan)


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