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Axe attack leaves three dead in Preah Vihear

Three family members were hacked to death with an axe yesterday by a drunken distant relative at their home in Preah Vihear province, officials have said.

Nguon Neam, an official with Preah Vihear province’s Chey Sen district police department, said the victims returned home from worshiping at a local pagoda at around 5am when Vut Bunthoeun, a distant relative who lived in the same village in Khyong commune, came into the property drunk and armed with an axe.

According to Neam, after entering the house, Bunthoeun attacked 39-year-old Chen Ten, striking him multiple times. When Ten’s parents, 66-year-old Chen Taing and 73-year-old Meas Im, tried to intervene, he turned the axe on them.

“After slaughtering them, the perpetrator did not run away. He used blankets and mosquito nets to wrap the bodies up and walked around the house. Police surrounded [the property] and picked him up at the scene,” Neam said.

Following the arrest, Chen Te, a son and brother of the victims, said that he was shocked by the murder of his family, who he said had regularly given Bunthoeun money and food.

“The assailant came to live [in the village] and had meals with my family for a few years and they did not have any problems,” he said. “At dawn I was told by villagers that he attacked my parents and they called police for help, but they were unable to help them on time,” he said.

Keo Chamroeun, Preah Vihear deputy provincial police chief, told the Post that Bunthoeun was drunk and aggressive at the time of his arrest.

“When we detained him, he was drunk like a madman. After the murders, he stayed inside the victims’ house and we surrounded [the property].… If we went into the house, we would be axed”, he said.

Chamroeun added that Bunthoeun would be sent to court today.

Lor Chan, a provincial coordinator at rights group Adhoc, said the incident was “unprecedented” in the province, which he said had only seen single murders in the past.

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