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Task force to target illegal arms

Phnom Penh Municipal Police officers near the riverside conduct late-night checks earlier this year on drivers suspected of carrying illegal weapons in their vehicles.

PHNOM Penh municipal authorities have established a special task force that will patrol the city to crack down on shootings and possession of illegal weapons.

Touch Naruth, Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief, said Thursday that the patrolling task force, comprised of existing officers of the municipal and military police, would mark a departure from the former strategy of relying on district checkpoints to seize illegal explosives and firearms.

“We will go on patrol and seek out anyone who possesses or anarchically fires an illegal weapon,” he said. “We will crack down on anyone who causes anarchy.”

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema authorised the initiative during a meeting on Monday, telling the capital’s district governors that the new force must be permitted to patrol their neighbourhoods at will rather than simply set up checkpoints.

Chan Soveth, a programme officer for the local rights group Adhoc, said the establishment of the force was a positive sign, but added that operating it would be more challenging.

The establishment of the task force follows an address by Prime Minister Hun Sen last month in which he called on government leaders to rein in the “gangster” activities of their relatives.

Hun Sen was responding to the case of 30-year-old Khay Dara, who was arrested for firing a gun into the air during a minor traffic incident before claiming to have government connections.

In June, Hun Sen issued a directive asking authorities nationwide to step up prevention of drug use and public disturbances by juvenile groups.



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