Cambodia's interim government has ordered the police and security forces to take
tough action to stem a rising wave of violent crime in Phnom Penh.
Speaking to police officers on July 7, Co-Presidents Prince Ranariddh and Hun Sen,
who also head the National Security and Interior Ministries, ordered police to clamp
down on gambling dens and the prevalence of guns among the civilian population.
"Even if a person has a license, both license and guns must be retrieved. This
is the way to stop the shooting. Offenders, whether they be military or civilian,
should be punished with military discipline," Hun Sen said.
The sound of people shooting machine guns into the sky when there is an eclipse of
the moon or at rain clouds has become a normal part of life in the city.
Khmer-language newspapers report daily incidents of motorcycle riders being shot
dead for their vehicles, especially the Honda 70-90cc models which are easily resold
The current climate of fear has fuelled a growing demand for weapons by the civilian
population who believe they are at risk from robbers and bandits.
Hun Sen ordered Phnom Penh city Governor Sim Ka and the police to shut down gambling
bars, charging they were a major reason for the upsurge in crime. He alleged soldiers
and police were involved in operating or providing protection for gambling bars.
"I wonder whether you are ashamed or not when you see the stories about public
disorder published in the papers or you don't read them at all," Hun Sen asked
"We must get rid of the gambling dens, no matter who is behind them. What is
urgent is to settle the problems in order to let the people sleep without fear,"