An unidentified gunman fired into the home of a Norodom Ranariddh Party activist in Kompong Thom province’s Stong district in the early hours of Tuesday morning, in what police say was a politically motivated attack.
Two shots from an AK-47 assault rifle were fired through the door of the home of NRP supporter Mob Khorn, a former Funcinpec first deputy commune chief for Kompong Chin Choeung commune, district police chief Huot Sarim said.
No one was injured, he said.
The shooting followed the defection of Mob Khorn and two other Funcinpec commune councilors from nearby Popoak commune to the NRP, Huot Sarim said. The gunman is likely a member of Funcinpec though police do not yet have any suspects, he said.
“The shooting was politically motivated,” he said.
Mob Khorn said the shooting occurred around 4:30 am while he and his family were asleep.
Since joining the NRP last week, Mob Khorn said he has been working to encourage other Funcinpec members to also jump ship.
One day before the shooting, Mob Khorn had convinced the two Funcinpec commune councilors to join the NRP and register as candidates for April’s commune elections, he said, adding that he believes the violence was in response to their defection.
“The shooting was political intimidation,” he said. “They intended to kill me.”
Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero decried what he said was a hasty judgement call by the police.
“It is too soon for the police to make that comment,” he said. “We don’t allow anyone to use violence; shooting at somebody’s house will reduce our votes,” he added.
Kong Vimean, a deputy provincial governor and Funcinpec member, also denied that the attack was political. He said that it might have been motivated by revenge.
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that he is concerned that violence could mar competition between Funcinpec and the NRP for voters.
“We are afraid that the violence will increase with the upcoming commune election,” he said.