A Norodom Ranariddh Party activist was axed to death in Sihanoukville on Monday evening and his daughter was injured in an attack that the party claimed Tuesday was politically motivated.
However, police, election monitors and National Election Committee officials said they believed the attack was not political.
Mittapheap district police have arrested three men allegedly involved in the killing of NRP activist Hak Sok, who was struck in the head with an ax outside his Buon commune home at 9:45 pm, deputy district police chief Hol Kantha said.
Hol Kantha said he believed the attack stemmed from a violent dispute between Hak Sok’s son and another young man, who was arrested Tuesday.
Families of the two young men failed last week to agree on compensation after a fight between the two on March 20, he said.
The arrested man, Sao Vannop, 26, and others came to Hak Sok’s home Monday night demanding that Sun Kim San come outside. When Sun Kim San refused, Hak Sok went out of the house and Sao Vannop allegedly killed him and injured his daughter Hak Nhang, Hol Kantha said.
The NRP’s Sihanoukville Director Pok Ta Reth said that Hak Sok was killed because of the NRP’s popularity in Buon commune. “This is a politically motivated killing. The NRP was very strong in the commune,” he said. The NRP in a statement Tuesday condemned the attack, which it called “more political violence.”
The SRP on Tuesday also claimed one of its activists in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district suffered a knife attack Monday and called on police to investigate. Lim Sophat, 44, suffered a knife wound to the face from an unidentified assailant in Stung Meanchey commune, the SRP said in a statement.
The attack followed Saturday’s explosion in the Stung Meanchey garbage dump in which a bomb injured SRP activist Norn Bona, 26, according to the statement.
Commune police chief Mao Savoeun said he was unaware of the reported attack on Lim Sophat but said police would investigate.
CPP commune councilor Dok Sokhun said the latest incident was unrelated to politics and asserted that Norn Bona was in fact a CPP member.
Mar Sophal, head election monitor at the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said he doubted the NRP case was politically motivated but said the SRP cases appeared suspicious.
“Those incidents have affected the election campaign,” he said. “It causes the voters to feel intimidated.”
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said so far there has been no political violence in this election season. “These cases were not related to politics,” he said.