Police in Siem Reap province arrested two people on Wednesday for allegedly damaging the lingas of six ancient sculptures at the River of a Thousand Lingas on the slope of Kulen Mountain, while another suspect remains at large.
One week ago, three men came at night and used swords to dismember three sculptures while an additional three were mildly damaged, Svay Loeu district police chief Sun Eng said yesterday.
“We cooperated with the provincial police to investigate the incident. We managed to identify three suspects and arrested two Wednesday evening. Another suspect fled the scene but the authorities know of his identity,” Mr Eng said.
Police arrested Pring Mao, 18, and Yuth Saroeun, 21, for intentionally causing damage. The suspects were then sent to the provincial police station for questioning.
Long Kosal, spokesman for the Apsara Authority, informed police officials last week that sculptures were being damaged by perpetrators.
“The suspects were arguing with each other and became angry, and they released their anger and frustration on the ancient penises,” he said.
“I can’t say how they should be punished, but I just want to warn people that the law will come for you if you damage ancient things,” he added. “The police will take legal action.”
A linga is a phallic symbol of the goddess Shiva, a symbol of divine generative energy.
Thousands of the symbols were sculpted into the rocky bed of Kbal Spean River, or River of a Thousand Lingas. The area is considered as an Angkorian era archaeological site.
The suspects face six months to two years in prison if convicted of intentionally causing damage.