Koh Santepheap (Island of Peace) newspaper on Tuesday accused high government officials of being behind the shooting of its publisher and his bodyguard.
In a front-page story about the Monday shooting of publisher Thong Uy Pang and his bodyguard Yim Chhoeun, the newspaper accused “devil criminals and ambitious and powerful politicians in the present government” of being responsible for the attack. It did not elaborate on the identity of the politicians.
Thong Uy Pang and his family were about to pray at a family stupa when a gunman shot Thong Uy Pang twice in the chest. Yim Chhoeun took one bullet in the chest protecting his employer, while the gunman escaped on the back of a motorcycle driven by an accomplice.
Yim Chhoeun said from his bed at Calmette Hospital that he and Thong Uy Pang were in good condition and expected to be released from the hospital within a few days. Their rooms remain heavily guarded by police.
“If I were late only one second, the offender could have shot Thong Uy Pang to death,” Yim Chhoeun said.
Phnom Penh Penal Police Chief Khoun Sophon said Tuesday that police are still investigating and that there are no suspects. He refused to speculate whether the motive of the shooting was personal or political.
A press release from the National Police condemned the attack and offered an unspecified reward and protection for anyone coming forward with information.
“The National Police Department will take every possible measure to investigate, find and arrest the criminals and their men and send them to court,” the press release said.
The Information Ministry, in a statement read on TVK, called for the appropriate authorities to arrest the criminals. The local rights group Adhoc also called for action Tuesday
This was the third act of violence toward the newspaper since 1994, known for anti-corruption stories and lurid crime coverage.