Soldier Shoots, Injures Dancing Villagers

Three villagers from Oddar Meanchey province were injured during a Buddhist ceremony Mon­day eve­ning, when an allegedly drunken Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) soldier shot his AK-47 assault rifle at the ground causing bullets to ricochet into the crowd, villagers and police said.

A crowd of local residents were dancing during a Buddhist ceremony at about 8:30 p.m. in Anlong Veng district’s Trapaing Brei commune when the soldier, Tann Sam Ol, who was allegedly angry at the noisy revelers, fired his rifle several times at the ground close to where a group of people were standing, one of the victims, 33-year-old Toem Neth, said Wednesday.

“I have a wound on my left thigh [from a bullet] that ricocheted off the ground. I think it is unlawful that he caused anarchy during the ceremony and used his gun to in­jure villagers,” Ms. Neth said, adding that a formal complaint had been filed with military police.

According to Ms. Neth, the two other villagers who received minor injuries were 25-year-old Tery Vong, who was hit on his right shoulder, and 18-year-old Vey Pring, whose neck was grazed by a bullet.

District military police commander Nguon Thirith said that military police had received the victims’ complaint and will send it to the court “soon.”

“I can confirm that the soldier did in fact discharge his weapon, though the three villagers suffered only mi­nor injuries,” Mr. Thirith said, adding that Mr. Sam Ol said he had fired shots at the ground because he was angry with the villagers for making so much noise while dancing.

Brigadier General Nuon Nov, dep­uty commander of RCAF Region 4 in Anlong Veng district, said that Mr. Sam Ol—who is presently stationed at the base—had been drinking, which is perhaps why he became angry.

“His actions were illegal, and we have already punished the soldier according to military law,” said Brig. Gen. Nov, though he declined to say what the punishment was, and what “military law” he was referring to.

Srey Naren, provincial coordinator of local human rights group Adhoc, said the soldier should be properly punished according to the law.

“Soldiers need to protect the nation, not use their weapons to shoot at villagers,” he said.

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