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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Motive fuzzy on shooting

Motive fuzzy on shooting

ATTEMPTED murder charges will be brought against armed men who shot Leng Samang,

an editor of a local newspaper last week, according to Mak Chito, chief of Municipal

Criminal Police.

"The assailants will face murder charges...they shot him with the intention

to kill him," Chito said.

Details of the identities of the seven attackers were not available, but Chito said

they belonged to a police protection unit of the Ministry of Interior. He said police

were continuing the search to arrest the assailants believed to be in hiding.

Leng Samang, 26, editor of Kumnit Kaun Khmer (Thoughts of Khmer Children), was beaten

and shot by the men dressed in bodyguard and police uniforms at his home on Jan 2.

His relatives said Samang who had returned from the birthday party of First Premier

Prince Norodom Ranariddh that night was surrounded by the men who were drunk and

armed with AK-47 rifles.

Along the way to his house located about 200 meters from his mother's where he had

just parked his car, relatives said the assailants beat up Samang with their rifle

butts.

They fired two shots wounding him in his right arm and lower abdomen before breaking

the door of his house to tell his wife to take him to a hospital, according to relatives

and the police.

The motive of the attack is not yet clear, but Chito said Samang must have been mistaken

by the assailants for another man who lives nearby and with whom they used to quarrel.

Sin Yoeun, Samang's neighbor whose water container the assailants had urinated on,

must have been the target for the attack, said Chito.

Samang's relatives, however, dispute the police's version of the motive for the attack,

saying it was politically motivated.

Cheng Sokna, publisher of Kumnit Kaun Khmer which supports the Funcinpec party, said

the attack was linked to his newspaper's critical position against the CPP.

"This is politically motivated [incident] because my newspaper goes against

one side of the government which is the CPP," Sokna said.

He said Samang joined his newspaper after he returned from a frontline near Pailin

last year.

After surgery on his wound, Samang's health is reported to be in stable condition.

He is the second journalist to survive a shooting.

Ek Mongkul, a popular announcer of Funcinpec radio FM90, was shot in broad daylight,

but survived after a long period of being hospitalized.

Since 1994, four journalists have been killed - one of them in mysterious circumstances

- but none of their perpetrators have ever been found by the authorities and convicted.

Pin Samkhon, co-president of the Khmer Journalists Association, called the assassination

attempt politically motivated and criticized the government for being "incapable

of protecting journalists and the general population" from criminal acts.

The attack on Samang also drew strong condemnations from King Norodom Sihanouk and

Prince Ranariddh.

"Such an act which followed many previous crimes in our capital causes severe

deterioration of Cambodia's liberal democracy, prestige and honor on the international

arena," the King said in a Jan 4 letter.

In a statement released by his cabinet on Jan 3, Prince Ranariddh described the attack

as having a serious impact on "freedom of press, freedom to express one's opinion

and liberal democracy I always uphold."

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