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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Governor shooting "confusion"

Governor shooting "confusion"

Governor shooting "confusion"

K ANDAL - Svey Rieng governor Loy Sophat was ambushed by local policemen hidden

in bushes who fired on his car without warning on Sept 10, say

witnesses.

Police are saying it was a case of mistaken identity and

"confusion", and that they were after a robber.

Sophat meanwhile said the

attack was "abnormal" and called on the government to investigate, or else he

would lay a formal complaint.

Sophat - a former Vice-Minister of Interior

under the SoC regime - was not hurt, but his bodyguard had his leg broken and

his Landcruiser was riddled with bullets.

Sophat, his body guard and

driver were ambushed on Route 1, about 27 kilometers from Phnom Penh in Kandal

province on their way back to Svay Rieng.

Duk Ton, who witnessed the

ambush, said she was sitting in her hammock below her house when she saw "many"

policemen deploying along the road.

"Three of them hid themselves in a

bush near my house and I did not know what they wanted to do," she said.

Sophat's car cruised past the front of her house at about 11:30am and

police immediately opened fire, she said.

She said Sophat got out of the

car and rushed down to her house.

"I asked what happened. I heard the

police shout he was a thief. He got behind my husband, shouting for help and

saying 'what happens to me'?

"Two policemen ran after him, pointing guns.

My husband said 'stop' and asked them why are you so keen on shooting him when

you don't know if he's a thief yet?"

Sophat told the police he was the

provincial governor but they did not believe him, she said.

One policeman

abused him as "the bald one" and forced him to go up to the road but the man

refused for fear of being shot, she said.

"If he had stayed near the car

he would have been killed by the bullets," she said.

The situation calmed

after the police chief of Kandal province arrived and recognized him, she said.

Another witness Hoa Chany said her two sons stood near the battle and

were lucky that bullets did not hit them..

"One woman lost her baby the

day after the shooting because she ran very hard and was so shocked," she

said.

Loy Sophat said: "The confusion is a normal thing but the shooting

at me is not."

"It is normal if they just stop the car and ask us to get

out but this move [the shooting], that is abnormal," he said.

He denied

that the police had confused his car - on a public road many travelled - with

that of a thief.

Sophat said he stopped when he saw a signal from a

police vehicle 100m down the road - but that put him in the firing line of the

hidden ambush. He denied a police accusation that his driver started backing the

Landcruiser away.

He said: "I am a governor so what is the use of

escaping from the police?"

"I used to be one of the leaders of the police

in the Ministry of Interior. I used to advise police to ask questions and search

first before shooting."

He said in 15 years he "had never seen such an

operation".

"The problem of my car being damaged is not serious but the

problem I need the government to solve is to find out who made the mistake," he

said, and why that person gave the order to shoot.

Co-Interior Minister

You Hockry agreed with the police that the reason was "confusion", but

nevertheless he would investigate the incident and prosecute the one who made

the mistake.

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