Opposition Party Official Shot, Killed

sambo commune, Kompong Speu province – A Sam Rainsy Party commune official was shot and killed on Saturday by two unidentified men in Kompong Speu province in what appears to have been a premeditated assassination.

Tit Keo Monyroath, who was elected Feb 3 to serve as the second deputy commune chief for Sam­bo commune, Samraong Tong district, Kompong Speu prov­ince, was shot late Saturday night while going to a wedding with his nephew, officials said Sunday.

His death marks the eighth killing of a Sam Rainsy Party or Funcinpec commune official or activist since the Feb 3 commune elections. Tit Keo Monyroath is also the highest-ranking official to be killed since the elections.

Tit Keo Monyroath was shot by two men about 1 km from his home as he was driving on a motorcycle to the wedding, said his 21-year-old nephew Him Vuthea, speaking Sunday morning at the scene of the killing.

Him Vuthea said an unidentified man shouted to the two men to halt as they were driving along the dark, quiet dirt road on Saturday night. When Him Vuthea stopped his motorcycle, the unidentified man shone a flashlight into his face and then immediately opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle—aiming at the Sam Rainsy Party commune official.

Tit Keo Monyroath, who was also armed with an AK-47, returned fire and a brief gun battle broke out, Him Vuthea said. A second assailant, hiding on the other side of the road, then shot Tit Keo Monyroath twice in the buttocks, killing him.

The killers then fled into the night as Him Vuthea ran to the village to get help.

“I could not see their faces,” Him Vuthea said on Sunday. His arms and face were covered with lacerations from jumping into bushes to avoid the gun battle. The shooters did not steal Tit Keo Monyroath’s wallet, his new Samsung hand phone or his new Suzuki Best motorcycle.

The scene of the killing was still fresh early Sunday morning as po­lice tried to re-create the incident. Placing paper markers where cigarette packages and spent rifle cartridges were found in the muddy ground, the authorities concluded that the two as­sailants were hiding behind bushes and had laid in waiting for Tit Keo Monyroath, Kompong Speu district police officer Hean Phan said.

Although police officials had identified no suspects in the killing and could not determine the motive behind the shooting, one policeman interviewed on Sunday suspected that Tit Keo Monyroath was not killed for personal reasons or for his possessions.

“I cannot say this is a robbery or a revenge murder,” said Sam­raong Tong district Police Chief Phat Kim Hong. He added, though, that he could not call it a politically motivated killing either.

Interior Ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak told The Associated Press that it was unlikely the slaying was political.

“The CPP has no policy of killing people,” he was quoted as saying. “We received our power from ballots, not bullets.”

CPP commune Chief Iem An said on Sunday that the victim had no personal disputes with commune residents or the other commune officials.

Sam Rainsy Party members, inclu­ding Secretary-General Eang Chhay Eng, called the killing politically motivated. Tit Keo Mony­roath’s widow, Sieng Phally, also said the killing was political.

“I suspect he was killed be­cause of politics because I could not think of any other reason,” Sieng Phally said Sunday as she stood over the body of her husband. “He was very popular with the people.”


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