Political tension is rising in Prey Veng province after the murder of two people with connections to Funcinpec, and 15 families have fled their homes, the Provincial Governor Tep Nannory said Thursday.
The governor also labeled the murders political executions, citing interviews with villagers in the area who knew the victims and witnessed the murders.
“We haven’t been sleeping very well these days,” said Tep Nannory, a Funcinpec member. “We’re afraid we might be murdered very soon if we do not take care of ourselves.”
Two people with connections to Funcinpec were dragged from their Kompong Trabek district homes and assassinated by unidentified men, police and Funcinpec officials have confirmed.
Funcinpec officials say Phun Phoun, 32, was a Funcinpec member active at the grassroots level, while police officials say he switched to the Reastr Niyum Party three days before his murder. And Neang Mom Yang, 39, was the wife of the party’s second deputy district representative, officials say.
At least 15 families with connections to Funcinpec have moved from their village homes to sleep in the party’s Kompong Trabek district office, fearing they may be killed if they stay in their villages.
“The Funcinpec members in Prey Veng are scared and are laying low for a while,” Tep Nannory said. “Up till now, we haven’t received any information about the murderers. Who are they? Where are they? What do their faces look like?”
The Ministry of Interior is asking the same question.
“I have ordered provincial police to report any new information to me as soon as they get it,” General Mao Chandara said Thursday. “Hopefully they have found some new news about that by now.”
Prey Veng police officials could not be reached for comment. Mao Chandara said Wednesday it is too early to judge the motive for the killings. Early police findings point to robbery and personal revenge, he said.
Tep Nannory said he accompanied human rights workers to the district Wednesday to interview 80 villagers. Residents told him that neither victim had conflicts with anybody, he said.
“The killers just asked for valuables but did not take any, including the watch on [Phun Phoun’s] hand,” he said. “This means it is a case of a political killing.”
A supporter of opposition politician Sam Rainsy was killed in Prey Veng in late January, prompting the arrest of suspects who alleged that Ourn Phourng was killed out of revenge for events dating back nearly 20 years.
The Sunday killings follow the May release of a UN report alleging the political execution of more than 80 people since July, most of whom were Funcinpec supporters.