The acting police chief in Phnom Penh's Prek Pnov commune was seriously injured when a drug user attacked him with a machete on Wednesday night.

Nam Samkhan, deputy commune police chief, said acting Commune Police Chief Im Rithy, 36, was attacked in Phsar Lech village by 30-year old Am Dalin. He said the suspect was a known drug user and had been sent to rehabilitation centres four times, most recently to Prey Speu rehabilitation centre for mental illness treatment.

“But I was informed that he pretended to have fainted and was taken to hospital,” Samkhan said. “Then he ran back to his house. When he got to his house he quarrelled with his parents and siblings.”

From there the situation escalated, Samkhan said, with Dalin taking an axe and a machete and threatening anyone who tried to enter the house.

When police arrived, Commune Chief Rithy told Dalin to put down the machete or he would shoot him, after which Dalin attacked him.

The deputy police chief said seventy percent of Rithy’s left wrist was slashed off. A doctor replaced the missing bone with a piece of metal, he said, but Rithy would probably never be able to move his hand in a normal way.

“The suspect is being questioned at the Prek Pnov district police station." he said. "Witnesses are also being questioned there.”