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Police seek poll rioters

CNRP supporters overturn a military police vehicle outside a polling station in Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey district on Sunday.
CNRP supporters overturn a military police vehicle outside a polling station in Stung Meanchey district on Sunday. SRENG MENG SRUN

Police seek poll rioters

Military police are seeking the arrests of people who destroyed two military vehicles during an Election Day riot in Stung Meanchey district.

“We have already identified those who have destroyed and burned our military police cars,” said Brigadier General Kheng Tito, spokesman for the military police. “We have their photos and are seeking the suspects.”

Unrest at the polling station culminated in the surrounding and trapping of a polling station director inside a pagoda and the burning of two military police vehicles on Sunday, as tensions stemming from the voter list boiled over.

Meanchey District Governor Kuch Chamroeun said Sunday evening that a group of young Cambodia National Rescue Party supporters became angry at the poll station director when concerns of voter fraud arose.

Anger reached fever pitch as Vietnamese voters, whose names allegedly appeared on the voting list, were allowed to cast ballots while some Cambodian voters were turned away and told their names were not found on the list, said Keo Tha, a 53-year-old moto-taxi driver, who said he had been present.

As the station director was trapped inside by rioters, a man was taken to the hospital after being hit by thrown rocks, Chamroeun said.

Police closed the Stung Meanchey Bridge to traffic, as rioters threw volleys of rocks and turned over and eventually set fire to two military vehicles.

The whereabouts of a Buddhist monk were still in dispute in the riot’s aftermath yesterday, with one monk and a witness saying he was detained by military police, and military police denying arresting anyone at Stung Meanchey.

The 20-year-old monk said to have been arrested was part of a group of people trying to block Vietnamese voters from casting ballots, said the Venerable Sek Sam Ath, 38, a monk currently staying in the pagoda.

“I am now very concerned about his safety and security,” he said of the younger monk.

Tha, a motodop who claimed he witnessed the monk’s arrest, said the young man was not involved in destroying the vehicles but was trying to block Vietnamese voters. As a physical altercation ensued, military police became involved and eventually detained the young monk, placing him into one of their cars and leaving the scene, Tha said.

Tito denied the assertion.

“No monk or person has been detained by our police relating with riot,” he said.

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