Witnesses Finger Police in Midday Slaying

As angry witnesses accused police of killing a Phnom Penh high school student over a minor traffic accident near Phsar Thmei, Governor Chea Sophara Wednes­­day defended his officers.

“They are doing a good service for Phnom Penh’s people and its visitors,” the governor said of the police force. “That is our first priority for the Khmer New Year.”

The governor was reacting to the Wednesday morning shooting death of Bak Tuk High School student Seng Kong Hong, 21, whom witnesses say was gunned down in a crowded commercial district. Witnesses de­scribed Seng Kong Hong’s killers as police officers on a motorbike and said the gunmen fled the scene.

The governor refused to comment further on the shooting, saying the investigation had just started.

Seng Kong Hong, a Prampi Makara district resident, was crouched on the floor in the front seat of a white Toyota Camry when three bullets struck his throat, head and face, officials said. Two bullets burst out of the man’s jaw and a third lodged in his spine, officials said after examining Seng Kong Hong’s body at Wat Ounalom.

The dead student and five others, including his cousin and some classmates, were driving along street 142 near Phsar Thmei at around 9 am when the shooting occurred, witnesses said. Two men allegedly wearing police uniforms chased the Cam­ry after it nudged their motorbike and continued.

The man riding on the back of the motorbike fired two shots from an AK-47 at the car, witnesses said. A bullet slammed into the Camry’s rear window, shattering the glass. All of the car’s passengers, including Seng Kong Hong, ducked to the floor.

The Camry rolled to a halt in front of the Soriya restaurant at 700 St 142, witnesses said. The motorbike raced to the left-hand side of the car, where Seng Kong Hong was hiding. The man on the back of the motorbike opened fire, according to the witnesses. Seng Kong Hong was struck and died instantly, witnesses and autopsy officials said. As an angry crowd began to gather around the scene of the shooting, the gunmen fled, witnesses said.

Phnom Penh municipal penal police were interviewing witnesses Wednesday, penal police Chief Sok Khemarin said, adding that it was still too early to tell whether the gunmen were police officers or armed private security guards.

Relatives and friends drove Seng Kong Hong’s body to Wat Ounalom for examination and burial. Relatives said funeral arrangements had not been made because the victim’s parents, who are car dealers, were in Thailand on a business trip.

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