The Sam Rainsy Party has called for an investigation into the killing of three men, one of whom had recently joined the opposition party, who reportedly died during a gun battle with police in the Chamkar Mon district of Phnom Penh on Friday.
Seven others, including three police officers, were seriously wounded in the shooting on Friday morning near the Monivong Bridge in the south of the city.
Deputy Municipal Police Chief Heng Pov said on Friday the incident occurred after two men and a woman traveling on two motorcycles failed to stop at a weapons checkpoint in the Russei Keo district of Phnom Penh.
Police and military police manning the checkpoint gave chase, but came under fire, Heng Pov said, adding that other police units were notified of the suspects’ route and opened fire as they approached.
The two suspects were killed in the ensuing fire fight.
A passerby was killed as well.
Identities of the dead were not immediately available.
Seven other people were seriously injured, including three police officers, two of whom are in critical condition, Heng Pov said.
“When police were chasing them the suspects opened fired on police,” Heng Pov said.
Heng Pov said one of the dead men had recently joined the Sam Rainsy Party but their was no indication the incident was involved with politics.
Russei Keo District Police Chief Ly Lay claimed on Friday that one of the two dead men had previously committed crime in his district.
“The police suspected and stopped them when they crossed the checkpoint but they did not stop so we suspected they were carrying guns so we chased them,” Ly Lay said.
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Ung Bun Ang said on Friday that one of the dead men had joined the opposition party on Wednesday.
The party had drawn no conclusion regarding the incident, but it was imperative the police conduct a speedy investigation, Ung Bun Ang said.
“I would demand the authorities investigate this case quickly,” Ung Bun Ang said.
On Wednesday, human rights and independent election monitoring groups expressed concern at the burgeoning incidents of violence ahead of the July 27 elections.
Eight party activists and supporters from each of the three major political parties have been killed in the first five days of the campaign period, while 26 cases of political intimidation have been registered in the same period, according to the statement.
“Among the 26 cases, victims of 19 cases belong to SRP, five Funcinpec and two CPP,” according to the statement from local rights group Adhoc, the Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia, National and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia.
The National Election Committee also issued an appeal on Wednesday for political parties to refrain from using insulting and racist language.
“Political parties are abusing their right to campaign by giving speeches containing incitement to racial hatred, disparagement of different ethnic groups, direct insults or contemptuous remarks against other candidates,” the NEC said in a statement.
Meanwhile, more than 7.5 million ballot papers are being printed for the election campaign along with some 1.2 million spare ballot sheets, the NEC announced on Thursday.
All unused ballots paper will be accounted for, said the NEC, adding that earlier this week donor country representatives and election observers visited the printing house where the ballot slips are being printed.