MORE than 100 police and military police in Kampong Cham province are involved in a manhunt for a soldier accused of shooting and killing three people and seriously injuring four others in a drunken rampage, officials said yesterday.
Lay Ngoun, the police chief in Kroch Chhmar district, said the search for 50-year-old Sles Yeb had been widened after an initial 48-hour stakeout of a cornfield close to the crime scene did not result in his arrest.
“We tried to look for the suspect in the corn farm at night and in the daytime, but he is [still] at large,” Lay Ngoun said. “We did not dare to go deeper into the corn farm to look for him because the suspect has an AK gun with 160 bullets, a pistol and bombs. He is running and hiding. We are looking to arrest him.”
He added that the suspect, known as Mol Mab by his fellow soldiers in Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Battalion 203, may have fled to another province.
Khieu Pov, police chief in Kompong Treas commune, where the shooting occurred Thursday night, said it began following a dispute between Sles Yeb and his wife and son, whom he tried to slash with a knife. After they escaped unharmed, Sles Yeb went on a shooting spree through the streets of Ty Pram Muoy village, firing at victims apparently chosen at random.
A total of 56 cartridge casings have since been recovered. “The suspect shot a lot,” Khieu Pov said, and added that 43-year-old Nhor Ramo, the first victim, was hit 10 times in the stomach, armpit, waist and throat.
Lay Ngoun identified the other two dead as El Romin, 59, and a 25-year-old known only as Maley. One woman and three girls were severely injured, and the leg of one girl required amputation, he said.
Sim Uy, district RCAF commander, said military officials were committed to bringing Sles Yeb to justice. “We do not support him even though he is a soldier,” he said.
“We respect discipline and law, and we have to arrest him for the courts to punish.”
Moeun Tola, head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre, urged authorities to pursue the suspect aggressively, and noted that as a general rule, soldiers who commit violent crimes are “never caught and punished”.