Phnom Penh Municipal Police and Gendarmarie units are conducting city-wide searches
of rental properties and guest houses in search of suspected members of the Cambodian
Freedom Fighters (CFF).
The search has been initiated in the Sras Chork commune near the Phnom Penh railway
station, from where armed gunmen subsequently identified as CFF members led a Nov
24 attack against government buildings.
Touch Sarin, Chief of Sras Chork police station, refers to a wall of fifty-one photographs
of alleged CFF members provided to him by "high level officials" when asked
who Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Chea Sophara has instructed he and his men to hunt
"We are searching for CFF suspects, underground weapons and people who are living
[in Phnom Penh] illegally," Sarin said.
The "most wanted" are a mixed bag - a former member of Prince Ranariddh's
bodyguard unit, a former CPP Minister of Health, a Sam Rainsy Party activist from
Pailin and a Kandal Province police officer.
Coinciding with the manhunt is an official household registration campaign.
"We have invited illegal residents to our police station for education,"
Sarin said. "We tell them that they should report to local authorities whenever
they move in order to eliminate suspicions. We also ask them for their photos."
Sarin acknowledged that there is no law requiring people from out of town to register
when they move to the Phnom Penh. Though his officers have no warrants requiring
residents to come to the station for interrogation and registration, he says this
is "a special case."
Men Krey, a 35-year-old laborer from Prey Veng who rents a house near the railway
station says the current police manhunt has created an atmosphere of intimidation.
"Friends from the provinces who did not have identification papers, have fled
Phnom Penh for fear that police might link them with the CFF," said Krey.