Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

Weapons and rifle parts confiscated by Thai authorities last week believed to have been smuggled from Cambodia. National Police
Weapons and rifle parts confiscated by Thai authorities last week believed to have been smuggled from Cambodia. National Police

Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in the Kingdom.

Chhum Socheat, spokesperson for the ministry, said in a Facebook post on Thursday that those alleging that the weapons originated in Cambodia were distributing “fake news”.

A man, identified by Thai media as Chayut Prasertrit, was arrested near the Cambodian border in Thailand's Trat province and allegedly confessed to having smuggled the weapons from Cambodia to the neighbouring country for delivery to a client there. His vehicle was reported as bearing a Thai military sticker.

Among the weapons appear to be two Chinese-built Type-95 assault rifles, four completed M16s and numerous parts for building the latter.

Soldiers from the Prime Minister's Bodyguard Unit carrying Chinese-made Type-95 rifles in Phnom Penh.
Three men from the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit guard a street in Phnom Penh in 2014. AFP

Socheat said these weapons, reported as M16 and “TEPY” assault rifles by Cambodia’s National Police, did not exist in Cambodia.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defence would like to clarify to the public and the media that the news about these weapons transported from Cambodia territory is publication of fake (untrue) news without clear sources,” he wrote. “In Cambodia, there is no use of such types of weapons.”

But shooting ranges throughout Cambodia publicly offer civilians the opportunity to shoot M16s, and Type-95 assault rifles are carried by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit.

Koh Kong Province Police Chief Somkhit Vean, meanwhile, said the case was still under investigation.

If weapons were indeed smuggled from Cambodia, it would not be the first time. Last year saw a number of arrests of both Thai and Cambodian nationals in relation to cases of weapon smuggling between Cambodia and Thailand. Among those arrested was a first lieutenant at Cambodia's Ministry of Interior who is a relative by marriage of both Defence Minister Tea Banh and the former governor of Koh Kong.


  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,