Military and traffic police offered differing accounts of a crackdown on two groups of rival “gangsters” in Poipet town on Sunday afternoon, with traffic police saying that bystanders were injured in a crash with fleeing suspects, but the injuries could not be investigated because military police had cleared the scene.
“My forces cracked down on the two groups of gangsters when people living at the scene reported fighting in a public place that startled and intimidated residents,” Banteay Meanchey military police commander Hom Muth said, adding that he had not received any reports on accidents involving bystanders, but that one suspect had been arrested so far.
However, provincial traffic police chief Tao Saroeun maintained yesterday that there had been injuries when the fleeing suspects crashed into three people on another motorbike.
“They chased the offenders and it caused a road accident, but when I arrived at the scene, military police had sent all the motorbikes and victims, as well as other evidence, to their military headquarters,” he said.
A photo of the crash scene posted by a local news site showed three downed motorbikes, but it was unclear whether any suspects had been injured in the wreck.
Sam Chankea, a co-ordinator for rights group Adhoc, cautioned authorities against using excessive force, but praised their initiative.
“In all of their local crime prevention measures, authorities should go down to educate and strengthen the implementation of the law . . . instead of being lazy and waiting to hear of crimes from their homes,” he said.