A Sam Rainsy Party activist was shot four times in the chest with an AK-47 rifle by an unknown assailant in Kompong Cham pro-vince’s O’Reang-ou district on Saturday evening, police said Monday.
Lay Kong, 42, was killed instantly, police said. Sam Rainsy Party officials said he had been working underneath his house in Chompou village when he was attacked.
Kompong Cham Deputy Police Chief Seng Sokim would not rule out the possibility that the shooting was politically motivated. But he said he believed the case may be linked to the killing of a fellow male villager on Dec 24. He did not provide the name of the other victim.
Seng Sokim suggested Lay Kong, the Sam Rainsy Party’s chief for the village, was targeted because he provided police with information in a bid to help them identify the suspect of the Dec 24 killing.
“The suspect might have known Lay Kong informed police. That was why he killed him,” Seng Sokim said. He added police were searching for the suspect, whom he declined to name.
Sam Rainsy Party Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang, however, said he suspected Lay Kong was killed because of his role in the opposition party.
“I think Lay Kong’s killing is a political killing because the perpetrator didn’t take anything with them after the killing,” Eng Chhay Eang said Monday.
Calling the incident a political “assassination,” Sam Rainsy
parliamentarians issued a statement on Monday, calling for a full investigation into the case.
The statement said Lay Kong was a very active member of the party and had been assigned to observe the ballots in his commune during the July 27 general elections.
“The authorities never arrest perpetrators to stand before the court,” Eng Chhay Eang said. The authorities “are discriminating against opposition members. When there are killings, they always ignore (them),” he said.
Funcinpec Deputy Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay on Monday also expressed concern for the safety of his own party members, especially following the Oct 18 shooting death of pro-Funcinpec Ta Prohm radio journalist Chuor Chetharith.
“Funcinpec members and even I, myself, are always concerned about our safety because the authorities never arrest the perpetrators after they kill people,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak on Monday denied police negligence.
“No matter if it’s a political or revenge killing, we will find justice for” the victims, Khieu Sopheak said. “The ministry’s duty is to find the perpetrators to be punished.”
He said political parties often claim killings are politically motivated to gain attention from the public.
Lay Kong is survived by his wife, Orm Seng Hong, 42, and three children.