A Ratanakkiri man who allegedly shot a police officer dead last month and was believed to be plotting to assassinate the president of an organization working to empower ethnic minority villagers in the province was killed by authorities on Thursday night, police said.
The suspect, known only as Ny, was being hunted for the July 17 killing of Bokeo district’s deputy police chief Buth Sophat who was investigating reports that a contract killing had been ordered for Dam Chanthy, president of the Highlanders Association.
Hor Ang, Ratanakkiri deputy provincial police chief, said on Friday that Bokeo district police officers surrounded Ny at a house on Thursday night and ordered him to surrender his weapon. Ny opened fire and was killed by police in the ensuing gun battle, Hor Ang said. “
No officers were injured,” Hor Ang said, adding that it was impossible to take the suspect alive or to get to the bottom of the alleged plot to assassinate Dam Chanthy.
“We could not arrest him alive. He was like a tiger with nowhere to run,” he said.
Dam Chanthy, who is currently in hiding at an undisclosed location in Phnom Penh, said she felt a degree of relief that Ny was no longer hunting her. However, she expressed regret that police were unable to interrogate the suspect to identify his paymasters.
“It’s regrettable that we were not able to ask him about the mastermind. I’m still worried about my safety,” she said. Efforts by the Highlanders Associations to educate ethnic minority members about their land rights issues have brought them into conflict in the past.
This year, Ratanakkiri authorities had threatened to shut the organization down after minority villagers in O’Yadaw district organized peaceful public protests to block a government move granting their ancestral lands as land concessions to a private company.