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Officer accused of firing AK into the air in Kratie

A military police officer was arrested in Kratie province last week on suspicion of having fired more than a dozen rounds into the air after a village chief refused to collaborate with him in extorting $100 each from alleged illegal miners, an official said yesterday.

Mao Sovannara, police chief for Sambor district’s Kbal Damrei commune, said the alleged shooting by military policeman Tep Sophea – who was moonlighting as a guard at Syan, a Chinese gold mining company in the area – happened at about 5pm on Friday in Otron village.

San Bunthan, provincial military police commander, said he ordered Sophea’s arrest about 30 minutes after the alleged shooting.

“The suspect confessed that he was drunk,” Bunthan said, adding that Sophea said he had fired in the air because he was concerned about thieves. He is being detained at the provincial military police base.

Sophea confessed to shooting in the air six or seven times, Bunthan said, but at least 14 shell casings from an AK-47 were found at the scene, and authorities are continuing to investigate.

Sok Yoeun, Otron village chief, said that while he was drinking with Sophea, the officer asked him to work with him to extort money from miners to get money for Pchum Ben, but he refused.

Sophea allegedly began firing about 30 minutes after Yoeun left the table.

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