INTERNATIONAL organisations are urging travellers on Bat-tangbang's Route 5 to exercise
extreme caution following the killing of three men at an illegal check point about
40 kilometers east of Pursat.
The men have been identified as Reach Savuth, the director of the local NGO Cambodian
Community Development of Veteran's Affairs (CCDV), his bodyguard and their driver.
According to several reliable sources, a convoy of six vehicles was stopped by uniformed
men at Arang Rouch village early on the morning of May 5.
Witnesses said the checkpoint was manned by about twenty people who were wearing
both RCAF and KR uniforms.
A senior provincial police officer said the three were killed after a soldier fired
at close range into their Nissan sedan with an automatic weapon.
The sedan was part of a six vehicle convoy, one of which was carrying armed soldiers.
However, the soldiers did not return fire and there were no reports of other people
in the convoy being robbed, leading to speculation that the passengers in the sedan
were specifically targeted.
The Nissan had arrived in Pursat the previous day in the company of trucks on route
to Phnom Penh from Poipet. Apparently it suffered mechanical problems and was forced
to seek repairs while the men stayed overnight in Krakor town.
The shootings follow another recent incident where one person was killed and another
seriously injured after militia opened fire on a taxi approximately ten kms north-west
of Pursat town. Sources believe the militia opened fire because the taxi refused
to stop at an illegal checkpoint or that the 'toll' it paid was insufficient.
The incidents have prompted the re-issue of security advice for travel within Pursat
A widely circulated report recommends travel be restricted to between 8:00 am and
4:00 pm and that all travel be conducted in convoy whenever possible. The advice
also recommends details of locations and destinations not be discussed over the radio.
Meanwhile, all bridges on Route 5 are reportedly passable and detours off the highway
are said to be no longer necessary.