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Gun mart reopens after raid

Gun mart reopens after raid

P

HNOM Penh's largest gun market has smoothly resumed trading after a government

raid last month which aimed to stamp out the illegal selling of weapons and

police and military equipment.

Psar Tuk Thlar has five stores which sell

a wide range of handguns and rifles, and 35 stores which sell police and

military uniforms and badges, a policeman working at the market was quoted as

saying.

On June 23, over 200 men, on orders from the Phnom Penh Military

court, surrounded the market located on Pochentong Boulevard.

They

confiscated from the vendors weapons, munitions and police and military

merchandise on display.

The Royal Prosecutor of the Military Court,

Lieutenant General Sao Sok, said the traders were not harmed but were politely

warned not to continue selling such equipment.

He said during the

operation the police captured one AK rifle, 610 rifle bullets, 470 hand gun

bullets (370 of which are the kind predominantly used by robbers), 32 gun

magazines, and some knives and bayonets.

A police source said the raid

was also carried out to crackdown on robbers who bought military uniforms as

disguises.

Market traders say the operation was largely a failure because

they had been tipped-off about the raid and thus were able to hide their hard

goods in time which resulted in the police barely seizing any guns.

Sao

Sok said the operation had been very successful in capturing military and police

paraphernalia. He said they had netted 283 military shirts and 20 pairs of

military pants, 23 police shirts and 39 pairs of trousers, 265 military caps and

61 police caps,125 military badges, 30 star-ranked badges, 41 police badges and

406 police signs.

The market vendors currently do not display the lethal

equipment they sell unless a customer specifically requests he wishes a

particular item.

An example of this was demonstrated when a vendor said

to one of her clients: "They [guns] are not available unless you tell us."

A police source said the price of the weapons is determined by their age

and quality.

He said a top quality, brand-new handgun can sell for over

$200, while AK-47s with a butt fetch only $75. AK bullets are also cheap - just

150 riel each.

He said many of the guns had also been sold to the market

vendors by demobilized soldiers.

The police source said that many

soldiers sell one of the two uniforms they are issued with to stall holders at

the market.

However, often the soldiers have to dash back to the market

to retrieve their uniforms if forewarned of an inspection by officers.

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