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Cambodia, Thailand investigate arms smuggling

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times Share:
Interior Minister Sar Kheng hands over a royal decree to appoint Mithona Phouthorng as the Koh Kong provincial governor at an inauguration ceremony on Friday. Photo Supplied.

Cambodia and Thailand are now working together to investigate weapons being smuggled from Cambodia to Myanmar via Thailand after a cache was recently confiscated by the Thai military in Thailand’s Trat province.

Speaking at the inauguration for the new provincial governor in border province Koh Kong on Friday, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said National Police Commissioner General Neth Savoeun was working with Thailand’s Police Commissioner General to investigate the issue in an effort to discover where the weapons came from and who was involved in the smuggling.

He said Myanmar had not had unity or peace in many areas despite elections taking place in that country and there were still many rebel groups fighting with the government.

“So I believe that those groups are seeking the weapons in order to build more forces against the government,” he said.

Early this month, Thai military officers arrested a Cambodian man and a Thai air force officer after discovering a large number of weapons in a pickup truck in Thailand’s Trat province. The discovery was only made after the pickup truck crashed on the Thai side of the border.

Officers found 29 assault rifles, four machine guns, 53 grenades to be used with M-79 grenade launchers and more than 4,000 bullets in the pickup, which was being driven by the air force officer.

Mr. Kheng said that according to the answers of the suspects during questioning, the weapons were smuggled through a secondary border checkpoint in Koh Kong province and not through the international border checkpoint.

He added that in Asean, Cambodia is the head of a committee against arms trafficking, but this smuggling originated in Cambodia.

Mr Kheng did not give any details about the case and the investigation.

On Friday the first female governor of Koh Kong province, Mithona Phouthorng, officially took office after being appointed last week.

She was appointed as deputy governor of the province last May. She follows in the footsteps of her father, Youth Phouthorng, who was governor there for many years.

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