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
On June 23, over 200 men, on orders from the Phnom Penh Military
court, surrounded the market located on Pochentong Boulevard.
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
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.
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
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
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
However, often the soldiers have to dash back to the market
to retrieve their uniforms if forewarned of an inspection by officers.