A member of Cambodia’s UN peacekeeping team in South Sudan has suffered a gunshot wound, and while senior military officials say the incident was not related to the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the civil war-torn country, there are conflicting reports as to what happened.
Phal Samorn, deputy director general of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and Explosive Remnants of War, said the Cambodian peacekeeper was hit by a bullet that had been fired into the sky during South Sudan’s independence day celebrations. “Rith Virak, who is a member of the RCAF, sustained light injuries to his left hand,” Samorn said.
Ministry of Defence spokesman Chhum Socheat also said the peacekeeper was injured during a celebration and the gunshot wound was not due to the ongoing fighting. He added the Cambodian peacekeepers are not in “clear danger”.
“This was an accident and it was not in war,” he said. “We have them far away from the war zone.”
However, an official at the centre, who asked to remain anonymous, said Virak was injured by bullets from the fighting in Juba between soldiers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the opposition.
He said Virak was outside guarding the Cambodian military camp on July 7 when he was injured.
Two Chinese UN peacekeepers were recently killed in the conflict. The Kingdom currently has 153 peacekeepers stationed in South Sudan.
Additional reporting by Vong Sokheng