Scores of tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) arrived in Sihanoukville on Wednesday morning, a port official confirmed.
Sihanoukville Autonomous Port director-general Lou Kim Chhun confirmed that the shipment had arrived at his port, but declined to elaborate on the details or provide the number of vehicles.
“I don’t know the source of origin. You’d better ask the Ministry of Defence,” he said. “It’s the property of the Ministry of Defence, so I am not covering such matters.”
A source with knowledge of the shipment who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak with the press said the vehicles arrived Wednesday morning and that military officials had been moving them from the port since.
“There are more than 80 tanks and APCs, and there are also about 100 containers of bullets and mortar shells,” the source said, adding that the shipment was from an Eastern European country.
In October, Cambodia received about 100 tanks and 40 APCs from Ukraine – a shipment that marked one of the largest ever.
It is unclear if this shipment is part of the same purchase or whether the timing of its arrival is coincidental.
Several senior military officials, including Minister of Defence Tea Banh, could not be reached for comment.
General Sao Sokha, deputy commander of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of National Military Police, said he was not aware of the shipment and refused to comment.
“It is not my job; I’m having dinner now,” he said.
The arrival comes just two weeks after the Chinese government gave 1,000 handguns and 50,000 rounds of ammunition to Cambodian police forces. Officials insisted the handover had been inked long before, but the delivery raised eyebrows among analysts who suggested it had been timed to coincide with post-election unrest.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, due to return to Cambodia today, has vowed to hold mass demonstrations unless final election results reflect a CNRP win, prompting the government to move a number of tanks, APCs and troops toward Phnom Penh.