Views Differ On Whether SJF Attack Was Political

A weekend attack on a Sangkum Ja­tin­iyum Front Party office in Phnom Penh that left a party member injured was likely a political as­sault, SJF leader Prince Sisowath Thom­ico said Monday.

“It’s quite difficult for me to be­lieve it’s not politically motivated,” he said.

Local police officials dismissed the claim and say the attack was gang related.

Ek Chantha, a SJF national council member and a former Khmer Front Party board director, said eight people stormed his office Sa­­­tur­day night in Russei Keo district, at­tempting to break down the door.

He said that his family successfully barred the door.

But his neph­ew and fellow SJF member, Sok Sop­heak, was trapped outside and the thugs beat Sok Sopheak unconscious. Sok Sopheak was hospitalized, but released Sunday with three stitches to his head and a badly bruised face.

Ek Chantha said the attack came a day after he had informed neighbors that he intended to hang an SJF sign above the office door. “It was politically motivated because Sok Sopheak didn’t know the group,” Ek Chantha said, adding that the attackers also shouted out about “a front.”

Ek Chantha’s son, Ek Veasna, cor­roborated his father’s account of the attack but said that Sok Sopheak knew some of the attackers.

Tin Lalin, Kilometer 6 commune ju­dicial police officer, said he re­ceived a complaint from Ek Chantha, and that two of the attackers have already been identified.

Tin Lalin said that the attack was gang related and not politically mo­tivated. “It was not related to politics,” he said.

Prince Thomico disputed the police assessment of the attack. “They didn’t find the aggressors. So how could they draw the conclusion that it was not political?”

Government spokesman and In­formation Minister Khieu Kan­harith said that no political parties would bother with the SJF because it has no seats in the National Assembly. “If it was politically motivated, those people would not have only used their hands,” he said.

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