Police in Banteay Meanchey province arrested 12 men for allegedly attacking two police officers in Thma Puok district Monday, knocking one of them unconscious, police said Tuesday.
While attending to a traffic accident in Banteay Chhmar commune’s Tlark village, commune police officer Plong Sar and district traffic police officer Meas Buth were approached by the group, said district police Chief Tat Theat.
The confrontation began when Plong Sar confiscated a whistle from Chai Touk, 23, who had been taunting the police at the scene of a collision between a motorcycle and a child pedestrian, Tat Theat said.
Members of the group collected weapons during a 30-minute confrontation, he said, during which as many as 25 police and military police responded to the scene.
“They brought sticks and meat cleavers from villagers’ houses,” Tat Theat said of the suspects, adding that Plong Sar was struck in the head and knocked unconscious while Meas Buth was struck in the chest and sought refuge in nearby houses.
Neither policeman required medical treatment, he added.
The 12 men, who range in age from 18 to 45, were arrested on suspicion of causing injury to police officers and are now in provincial police custody, said Tat Theat. He added that the group was comprised mainly of migrant workers who had returned home from Thailand for Khmer New Year.
Provincial Police Chief Hun Hean said Tuesday that he would address the matter after the Khmer New Year festivities, while Provincial Prosecutor So Vath said he had yet to be informed of the incident.
Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said Tuesday that many locals do not understand the law and believe police act arbitrarily. Police sometimes use excessive force, he added.