A Sam Rainsy activist in Prey Veng was allegedly shot at by a commune chief recently, an incident the opposition party is calling political intimidation.
So Vuth, an activist in Protheat commune in Kompong Trabek district, was reportedly targeted in the shooting by Commune Chief Ou Sam At, according to a party statement.
Chhay Sareth, first deputy governor of Prey Veng province, said the dispute centered on So Vuth’s work to encourage more women, including some of his own family, to run in the upcoming commune elections.
According to Chhay Sareth and Sam Rainsy Party members, So Vuth was at home with his family when three bullets fired from an AK-47 hit the wall of his house at 7:30 pm on Nov 1. No one was injured in the attack, party cabinet chief Phi Thach said.
The assailant fled the scene after the shooting but was seen running away with another man who lives in the same village, the party statement said.
Phi Thach said the attack was meant to intimidate opposition activists. “The victim is well-known as a Sam Rainsy Party representative in the commune as well as in the district,” he said. “This is not an individual, personal dispute. It is political violence.”
Village deputy chief So Nguon, who Phi Thach said is loyal to the CPP and lives next to So Vuth’s residence, identified the aggressor as Ou Sam At, party officials claimed.
Phi Thach said police confiscated a weapon from the suspect early last week after the incident was reported to local authorities.
It is unknown whether the suspect has been interrogated or arrested. Chhay Sareth said the investigation is continuing.
“So Vuth had served the [Sam Rainsy Party] since 1996 and worked hard to gain large support in favor of the party,” the party statement reads. “This led the local authority to worry of losing their credibility and [they] got angry with [party] supporters.”
According to the opposition party, the attack was the sixth incident in which an active party member has been targeted since early this year when Chim Chhuon and his daughter were shot dead in Kompong Cham in February. Local authorities and neighbors said that shooting was related to a personal dispute and was not politically motivated.
In August three separate attacks left two activists dead and one seriously injured in Kompong Cham and Prey Veng, the party claims. In June a Funcinpec party activist planning to run in the elections was shot dead with his wife in Kampot province.