Police in Tbong Khmum province on Friday shot one man dead and injured another—both suspects in a string of robberies—during a thwarted gun sale, an officer said.
Chak Sokao, chief of the provincial police force’s serious crimes bureau, said Sunday that his officers had learned of a pending arms deal among three men in Ponhea Krek district’s Korng Kang commune. But when the officers moved in to make the arrests, he said, the suspects opened fire.
“While they were making the sale, police surrounded them and yelled at them to lie down on the ground, but they did not listen to us. One man used a handgun to shoot at the police two times,” he said.
“Police shot back, killing one of the thieves and badly injuring the other at the scene. We just fired back to defend ourselves because the suspects had guns.”
Mr. Sokao identified the dead man as Chhorn Neang, 40, and the injured man as Nhe Loy, 38. He said police only realized after the shooting that the targets of the operation were suspects in prior robberies. The third man, whose identity police did not know, escaped.
According to the bureau chief, Mr. Loy confessed to taking part in the armed robbery of a grocery store in the province in October and to receiving part of the windfall from the November 2014 robbery of a local gold merchant, though he denied taking part in the theft.
“The court issued a warrant to arrest them early this year, but we could not find them,” he said. “They are part of the same group involved in many armed robberies in Kompong Cham and Tbong Khmum provinces.”
Mr. Sokao said Chhorn Neang’s body was cremated at a Korng Kang commune pagoda on Saturday and that Mr. Loy was being treated at the Kompong Cham referral hospital for a bullet wound to his right leg and another to his chest, which was only grazed.
He said police were still searching for three other men suspected of being part of the same gang and were also looking for the other man involved in the gun sale.