Only days before the opposition’s planned mass demonstration, the sound of gunfire blasting in the distance would not have been music to the ears of any villagers in Kampong Chhnang province who heard it.
Some 400 military police conducted drills at the Kampong Chhnang Military Police Training Centre in order to test their weapons and the capacity of the armed forces, national military police spokesman Kheng Tito said.
But, he added, the drill was just standard procedure and not related to preparations for tomorrow’s demonstrations, which the Cambodia National Rescue Party has predicted will draw at least 20,000 people to the streets.
“They were testing types of rifles, machine guns and B-40 rockets to examine the quality of the weapons,” Tito said. “This is not a way of threatening any demonstrators.”
Overall, he added, the weapons were found to be in good working order.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said he was not concerned about military activities in the lead-up to Saturday’s demonstrations.
“I don’t care about the behaviour of the government’s armed forces.… People will see the activities and deployment of armed forces and make a judgement themselves,” he said. “We’ve organised a non-violent demonstration in accordance with the law.”