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Military officer shoots taxi driver

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
A taxi driver who was allegedly shot by a military officer. Campost

National Military Police are seeking to arrest a military officer who allegedly shot a taxi driver on Sunday after he refused to pay a bribe at a checkpoint while carrying illegal timber within his vehicle in Preah Vihear province.

Major Long Sareth, deputy chief of Choam Ksan district police, identified the military officer as Third Lieutenant Phoum Kim, 37, with a military regiment based in Romdoh Sre commune.

Maj Sareth said the suspect was wanted over the shooting of Chhoeung Chetr, 24, a taxi driver from Kampot province who suffered three gunshot wounds during the altercation on Sunday evening.

“The suspect was angry at the victim for not paying him as demanded,” he said. “He took an AK-47 rifle and fired three bullets at the victim from outside the car.”

“The bullets broke through the car’s windows and hit the victim, causing serious injuries on his neck,” he added, noting the checkpoint had been set up in Sra Em commune, near the Cambodian-Thai border.

Maj Sareth said the victim was carrying about 30 boards of rosewood in his taxi from the border when he encountered the checkpoint, where two soldiers attempted to stop him and then chased him on their motorbikes.

A bullet hole in the taxi driver’s car window. Campost

Maj Sareth said that after managing to stop the victim’s car, Lt Kim attempted to extort $500 from the victim in exchange for not seizing the timber and the car.

The victim did not have the money and could not pay, Maj Sareth said, noting that after shooting at the victim’s car, the soldiers fled the area.

The victim was later rescued by his relatives and was immediately sent to the provincial referral hospital for treatment, where he is continuing to recover.

Lieutenant Colonel Pich Sothy, commander of Choam Ksan District Military Police, said authorities have not yet been able to locate the shooter.

Lt Col Sothy said the suspect was accused of attempted murder and illegal use of a weapon.

“We already know his identity and his military unit,” he said. “We are now working on this case in order to bring him in to be punished.”

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