Journalist Claims Home Attack Was Attempt To Silence Him

A Ratanakkiri province reporter for the CPP-affiliated Bayon television and radio network claimed his life was in danger yesterday after armed men shot at him and attempted to enter his home in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Sok Kimsan is a reporter at the Ratanakkiri branch of Bayon television and radio network–a company controlled by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s daughter Hun Mana. Mr Kimsan said a group of armed assailants tried to break into his home in Banlung City at about 1 am yesterday in an attempt to stop him from reporting on illegal mining and logging.

“In the last three weeks, I have reported on illegal mining operations in the province,” Mr Kimsan said. He also said he had unearthed a cache of illegally-cut wood hidden in an area of farmland in the province’s Kon Mom district about 40 km from Banlung City last week, and that his story on this was due to air next week.

Mr Kimsan said he believed his investigations and his attempts to uncover those responsible had prompted the attack on his home.

“I can not say that the logs and a number of illegal mining operations belong to powerful or wealthy businesspeople, but the attack was meant to kill me and these two controversial crimes were the motivation for this attack,” he said.

Banlung police chief Em Vun said authorities were investigating the incident but that it was too early to tell what had motivated the reported attack.

“So far we cannot make conclusions about whether it was a robbery or a revenge-related motive,” he said, adding that police were searching for a group of at least three armed individuals.

Mr Kimsan said he was convinced the attack was more than just a botched robbery.

“It was not an attempted burglary, but an attempt to kill me,” he said.

Mr Kimsan says he was alarmed by his dog’s barking at around 1 am yesterday but saw nothing when he went to check. At 2 am, he said, he discovered the dog had been poisoned and a group of armed assailants were trying to break down his front door.

“When they could not break the door, they smashed the kitchen window…. I ran to the first floor, then [one of the assailants] shot at me with a handgun by putting his arm through the broken window,” he said, adding that the assailants then circled the house for two hours before fleeing, firing another shot as they left.

Mr Kimsan said he feared for his safety and was reluctant to continue reporting on controversial matters from such a remote location.

“Police need to seriously consider the homeowner’s claim that this was related to his career reporting on such big crimes,” said Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc.


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