PM Ratchets Up Security Cites Attack

Claiming malevolent forces were working to undermine the ruling CPP government, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered police and military forces into action following the shooting of singer Touch Srey Nich and the killing of her mother in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

In a statement read on national TV stations Tuesday night, Hun Sen called on his armed forces to en­sure stability in the country and increase checks for illegal weap­ons. The prime minister also offered a “prize” reward for officers who delivered positive results in his new security campaign and for citizens who come forward with information leading to the capture of the attackers.

Hun Sen branded as “obstinate” the political parties that he claimed were preventing the formation of a government following the July 27 election. Those parties rejected the “principles of liberal democracy and pluralism” and have weakened the state of law in Cambodia, Hun Sen said in the statement.

“The recent, continuous type of planned murders that serve political affairs have caused the security and public order situation to be­come cloudy and have put the blame on the Royal Government,” Hun Sen added.

Seventy-two checkpoints have been set up in Phnom Penh, and police Lieutenant General Dul Koeun will lead a special team to track down the gunmen, and the masterminds, who shot the singer and killed her mother, Deputy Municipal Police Chief Heng Pov said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The Interior Ministry also released a statement offering a reward to people who provide information “that leads to determining the suspects or their group.”

Touch Srey Nich was airlifted to Thailand at 1:30 am Wednesday and underwent surgery at a Bangkok hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

Though still in critical condition, the young singer had regained consciousness and communicated with her father, said Om Yentieng, an adviser to Hun Sen. The government announced on Tuesday it would foot the bill for medical evacuation.

“Somebody did this and tried to put the blame for this incident on the government. But now the important thing is thinking about saving her life,” Om Yentieng said.

Funcinpec officials said on Tuesday that the star had identified herself with the royalist party, singing songs that had featured in the Funcinpec general election campaign.

King Norodom Sihanouk issued a statement on Wednesday saying he was saddened by the actions of the “hellish assassins” who shot Touch Srey Nich and killed her mother. The young singer loved her “grandfather Sihanouk” and her “grandmother Monineath,” the King wrote. She performed at the Royal Palace in 1995 during the visit of the then-Philippine president Fidel Ramos, the King noted.

“Our country has become, unfortunately, a country ‘without faith or laws.’ Hun Sen’s enemies accuse him of being a dictator, but the real ‘dictators’ are the gangster assassins, who place themselves over our laws and are always unpunished,” the King wrote.

The CPP should not try and use the recent killings to scapegoat those who peacefully oppose Hun Sen, Serey Kosal, an adviser to Prince Ranariddh, said Wednesday.

“The people know very well about the recent situation and it is not [Funcinpec] who are the ones that blame the CPP,” Serey Kosal said.

On Tuesday night, the security clamp-down claimed its first victims when police officers in Meanchey district opened fire, killing one man and injuring a second after they failed to stop their motorcycle at a checkpoint.

Both men, in their early 20s, did not heed police calls to stop, said district Police Chief Po Muth. Neither men were carrying weapons or had committed any crime, he said.

(Additional reporting by Thet Sambath)


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