Police Struggling With Rural Gangster Violence

Police in Kompong Cham, Kan­dal and Battambang provinces have arrested almost 300 people accused of gang activity in the wake of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s call in Nov­em­ber for a crackdown on gangsters.

However, a human rights worker in Kompong Cham said the police have not been successful in stemming gang violence in rural areas.

In Kandal, police arrested 168 gang members in connection with 68 gang-related cases including rape, drug abuse, assault and des­truction of property. Police also con­fis­cated 27 swords, metal chains, me­tal darts and a gun, said provincial police chief Iev Chamroeun.

Battambang provincial police chief Choup Pothirith said police ar­rested 86 people for driving dangerously on motorcycles.

“Their parents were happy to cooperate with police because they cannot educate their sons,” Choup Pothirith said.

In Kompong Cham, 44 people have been arrested since December for fighting and destruction of property, said Tum Channa, deputy pro­v­­incial minor crime police chief.

“Gang activity has decreased a lot and things are much better,” said deputy provincial police chief Seng Sokhim. “We accept that we can’t stop it 100 percent. Some small groups re­main.”

Kompong Cham provincial Ad­hoc coordinator Neang Sowath disagreed and said the prime minister’s call to uproot and prosecute gangsters has been a failure in rural areas.

“In rural areas, wherever there is a ceremony, there will be a fight,” he said.

In Kompong Cham’s Memot district, more than 30 gang members armed with machetes and clubs attacked a wedding last weekend, Adhoc provincial investigator Sim Heang said Tuesday.

The gang reportedly smashed chairs, tables and mirrors on guests’ cars, and allegedly bludgeoned the groom and several guests at the wedding’s dance ceremony in Tmour Poun commune.

“A police officer was there but he didn’t dare intervene because he was unarmed,” said Sim Heang, who interviewed the father of the bride.

Two hours later, the gang walked off unmolested.

On Wednesday, Hun Sen again threatened to demote police who can’t get a handle on gang problems.

“I’ve said repeatedly, if you can’t beat them, strip off your rank and put on theirs,” he said at the close of a two-day conference at the Interior Ministry.

 

 

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