A Sam Rainsy party activist was killed by a man wielding a K-54 handgun Monday afternoon at a Chinese New Year party being held near the Olympic stadium, police and Sam Rainsy Party members reported.
Sam Rainsy characterized the killing as political, saying the gunman fired after the victim, Ti Van, 32, gave a cheer for the Sam Rainsy Party.
Police disagreed. Prampi Makara district police Chief Yim Simony said the shooting was probably alcohol-related. He said there was a brawl, and then one shot was fired at about 4:30 pm.
The victim died and the culprit escaped, Yim Simony said, adding that an investigation was continuing.
Sam Rainsy Party members told a slightly different story Monday.
According to Sam Rainsy’s wife, parliamentarian Tioulong Saumura, Ti Van was attending the party at the home of his mother, and had just made a cheer for the Sam Rainsy Party when a man who was also attending the party pulled out a handgun and fired three times at point-blank range.
Tioulong Saumura said the two men knew each other. The victim’s wife said she knew the gunman as well.
Ti Van arrived at Calmette Hospital at 5 pm. He was pronounced dead about 30 minutes later.
Ti Van was an active member of the Sam Rainsy Party in Prampi Makara district, according to party officials.
“It was a block that was densely populated, so everybody heard and everybody knew,” Tioulong Saumura said.
Sam Rainsy characterized the shooting as a political killing.
“The victim only said ‘Congratulations to the Sam Rainsy Party,’ and then the shooter killed him. That shows that this is a political killing,” Sam Rainsy said. “This is the people’s freedom. They can say whatever they like.”
He implored people to stop using violence to solve disputes. “The violent culture leads to many killings,” he said.