Authorities in Mondolkiri province are searching for three men who joined a “drinking session” with local military police on Wednesday afternoon before one of them fired an assault rifle into the air at least 13 times, apparently unprovoked, officials said on Thursday.
It is unclear whether the suspects are civilians or security personnel, but they were almost certainly drunk, according to witnesses.
O’Reang district military police commander Sau Sam Ath said he met the men while offering alms at a pagoda in Sen Monorom City on Wednesday morning and invited them to celebrate the ongoing Pchum Ben festival at his office that afternoon.
“I invited them for beers,” he said.
The men gladly accepted and arrived in a black Lexus SUV at about 3 p.m., Mr. Sam Ath said. After drinking away the remainder of the afternoon with a group of military police, he added, the men climbed back into their vehicle and drove off.
But when the car was about 200 meters from the building, a man in the back seat produced an AK-47 and shot several times toward the sky, Mr. Sam Ath said.
“We didn’t have an argument with those people, but after drinking beer, they got into the car, rolled down the window and fired,” he said. Thirteen empty shells were later collected at the scene, he added.
“We are now working with provincial police to find the three gunmen, arrest them and send them to court,” he said, explaining that while he did not know the names of the men, he knew where they lived.
Deputy provincial police chief Sou Sovan, however, said there was more to the story. While confirming that his officers were helping to track down the suspects, he said the shooting did not happen 200 meters down the road, as claimed by Mr. Sam Ath.
“The shooting happened at the military police headquarters,” Mr. Sovan said, adding of the gunmen: “I think they were drunk.”