Six metalworkers were arrested in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district on Wednesday night following a violent confrontation with local military police, officials said on Thursday.
The six were among a larger group of metalworkers that rushed to the defense of two colleagues who had been approached by military police for driving recklessly, according to district military police commander Touch Meng.
“After I got the complaint from locals, saying that two people were swerving on a motorbike and yelling loudly, I ordered military police to the area, and at about 9:30 p.m., our forces saw two drunk-looking men on a motorbike,” he said.
Mr. Meng said the team of eight military police on four motorbikes approached the pair and asked them where they were from, but that the men ignored them and called for help from their colleagues inside the nearby warehouse.
Ken Seth, a deputy district military police commander, said one of the two then punched an officer named Prak Sambath, while other metalworkers stormed out of the warehouse and exchanged blows with other officers, resulting in minor injuries on both sides.
“They punched Prak Sambath in the face. Now it is swollen, and they broke one of his teeth,” Mr. Seth said, adding that when officers tried to arrest the pair, the men from the warehouse ran back inside and returned to the fight with swords.
“When we tried to arrest those two suspects, they ran into the warehouse about 100 meters away and others came running out with samurai swords and wrenches,” Mr. Seth said, adding that officers fired two shots into the air in an attempt to calm the situation.
He said military police managed to arrest six of the more than 10 men who joined the fight—Diep Sen, Chour Chum, Ly Horn, Kim Sophea, Chuop Channary, and Loep Eang Chhun, all in their 20s—but that the two who started the disturbance escaped.
“We are still questioning them and have not yet decided whether they will be sent to court,” he said, adding that authorities were still searching for others involved in the attack.