Villager Accused of Black Magic Shot Dead

A man accused of using black magic to sicken people in his village was fatally shot five times inside his home in Pursat province in what police described as a revenge killing.

An attacker approached the home in Kandieng district’s Anlong Vil commune at about 8:30 on Monday night and shot Chhem Yin, 34, with an AK-47 assault rifle, striking him in the chest, leg and shoulder, commune police chief Srey Chhumneth said on Tuesday.

“Our police are searching to arrest the murderer who escaped from the scene,” Mr. Chhumneth said.

Prek Takong village residents had made four previous attempts to kill Chhem Yin after accusing him of sickening villagers with his sorcery, and had filed complaints with police in 2014, Mr. Chhumneth said.

“This murder is revenge because villagers believed he was a sorcerer,” he said.

In rural Cambodia, there is a widespread belief in black magic, and those suspected of using it for ill intentions often face violence.

Chhem Yin was questioned about what he knew of using black magic, “but he told villagers and police he did not know about black magic at all,” Mr. Chhumneth said.

Keo Sokunthea, deputy provincial police chief, said villagers suspected Chhem Yin’s father was a sorcerer and had passed the craft on to his son.

“He was not a bad guy, but most people in the village did not like him because they believed he was taught black magic by his father,” he said. “I have heard unidentified suspects attempted to kill the victim [previously], but no one knows who they were.”

Tol Sopheak, former Anglong Vil commune clerk, said there had been four previous attempts to kill Chhem Yin during his term of employment, which ended in 2010, but he never made a police complaint.

In similar previous cases, Neak Komprea, a 28-year-old farmer in Mondolkiri province, was stabbed to death last year on suspicions of sorcery. A week earlier, Pak Sophea, 53, a traditional healer in Kompong Speu province, was beheaded, likely because his attackers believed him to be a sorcerer, authorities said at the time.

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