A forestry official in Mondolkiri province who says he has seized more than 100 cubic meters of illegal luxury wood destined for Vietnam in the past three months was shot by an unknown assailant on Friday night, police said Sunday.
Heng Chantra, deputy chief of the Sen Monorom City forestry division, was investigating a tip on Friday night that multiple vehicles full of luxury wood were heading toward the Vietnamese border, according to deputy provincial police chief Sou Sovann.
Mr. Sovann said Mr. Chantra was followed by a vehicle at around 10 p.m. as he was searching for the vehicles transporting wood.
A car pulled up in front of Mr. Chantra’s car, forcing him to stop, and a man in the car then flooded Mr. Chantra’s vehicle with bright light from what appeared to be a flashlight.
Mr. Chantra shone a light back, then turned his vehicle around and drove away. The car followed him and again pulled in front of him.
A man from the car got out and approached Mr. Chantra’s vehicle with a gun in his hand, asking Mr. Chantra who he was.
Mr. Chantra said he was a law enforcement officer and asked the man who he was. The man claimed to be a journalist and then shot Mr. Chantra in the arm.
“Police initially concluded that it is a revenge shooting because he is a serious official,” said Mr. Sovann. “Now we are working very hard to identify the perpetrators.”
Reached by phone in a hospital in Phnom Penh, where he is recovering, Mr. Chantra said the unidentified gunman started shooting at him as he tried to close his window because he was scared.
“Then I asked the soldier who was sitting beside me to fire back to scare the man,” Mr. Chantra said. “The gunman ran back to his car and drove away. There might have been two or three people in the car.”
Mr. Chantra said he has never faced death threats in the past, but now he fears for his life.
“I am worried about my safety after this incident and if law enforcement officials cannot find the perpetrators, I will become a victim again,” he said.