Despite recurring reports that young people are lashing out at relatives and each other with samurai-style swords, police said this week that the disturbing trend is decreasing in some areas, in part due to the cooperation of blacksmiths crafting the weapons.
Two sword attacks took place this weekend alone, one in Siem Reap province and one in Battambang province, police said.
In Siem Reap’s Puok district, Ir Ang, 19, was arrested on Sunday for slashing his father Ean Ir, 48, said Doung Sokha, a provincial penal police officer. In Battambang’s Sangke district on Saturday, Sok Chanthorn, 24, suffered a serious head injury when a group of gangsters armed with swords attacked him during a dance, police said.
“It’s a sword that they used to chop each other,” district police chief Chheang Khausa said Wednesday, adding that there is no law in Cambodian preventing people from selling “souvenir” swords that are often used in the attacks.
“We dare not seize those swords,” he said, adding that rich youngsters can buy sharp swords for $20 in Battambang’s market.
Doung Sokha said youths in Siem Reap sometimes custom order swords from blacksmiths.
“We have invited [blacksmiths] to the police station for education,” he said, adding that the swords for sale in Siem Reap town’s market for tourists are too blunt to commit crime with.
Chan Savouen, a Kandal province police official, said blacksmiths are now informing police when suspicious people request long swords to be manufactured.
“When they know that somebody wants to make a sword, they can secretly tell our police,” he said.
“The number of cases is down 70 percent to 80 percent,” in the province, he said. “We rarely encounter gangs with swords.”
Chheang Khausa said he has seen a 90 percent decrease in sword attacks due to arrests of gang members in Battambang district.
Sellers in Phnom Penh’s Russian Market on Tuesday said their souvenir swords are too blunt to be used by gang members.
Locally made swords sell for $10 at the market, while more elaborate swords from Honk Kong fetch between $55 and $100, said a 24-year-old vendor.