Amid rising crimes over the past weeks across the coastal city of Sihanoukville, Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun yesterday issued an order for joint forces to take urgent action to control the situation through effective crackdowns.
His order was made after reports of increasing crimes across the province, especially in Sihanoukville. The latest incident happed on Sunday when a group of suspects engaged in a gunfight in Pi commune, resulting in a bystander tuk tuk driver being killed and two police officers badly injured.
In response to the situation, Chamroeun led a Provincial Administrative Unity Command meeting with the participation of the provincial police chief, commander of the provincial military, commander of the military police as well as district governors and relevant department representatives to handle the ongoing challenge.
“He ordered the forces to carry out operations to monitor and crack down on various crimes in Sihanoukville, such as illegal possession and use of weapons, drug offences, theft and other acts affecting social security,” said a provincial hall statement.
“The overall measure is that the joint police forces will operate on the streets and at key targets in all areas, with those involved in crimes to be arrested and prosecuted according to the law,” it said, adding that Chamroeun also praised previous efforts made by the joint forces to maintain security.
At a separate event yesterday, Chamroeun said on behalf of the Provincial Administrative Unity Command, that he is responsibile for maintaining the safety for all people as well as investors in the province, describing the security situation as “bad” in the past few days.
“I have noted that the security situation in Sihanoukville is not good,” he said.
“On behalf of the Provincial Administrative Unity Command, I say that we are responsible for maintaining security and safety, so we will take strong action to intervene.”
Chamroeun on Sunday also visited the two police officers who remain in hospital for medical treatment after they were shot during gunfire exchanges on the same day in Sihanoukville’s Pi commune.
Provincial police chief Major General Chuon Narin told Khmer Times yesterday that provincial police are working hard to strengthen the situation in the province, as well as in Sihanoukville.
“We in the Provincial Administrative Unity Command have planned a strategy to beef up security. If we still cannot prevent or stop crimes, we must effectively crack down on them,” he said. “We need to join hands with all relevant authorities.”
Maj Gen Narin said National Police Chief General Neth Savoeun as well as Deputy National Police Chief Lieutenant General Dy Vichea, who is in charge of the coastal provinces, always pays attention to efforts to maintain safety and security in the province.
“We will continue to patrol to intervene in any incident, disseminating and educating about the consequences of committing offences as well as implementing the law,” he said.
Maj Gen Narin said the crimes were issues of concern and all police officers must strengthen their discipline and be ready to tackle challenges.
On Sunday, there was panic among residents and tourists after they heard multiple gunshots in the heart of the city. A 48-year-old Hem Rith was shot and killed at the scene while the two police officers were injured.
Local media reported that the incident involved a Chinese man and security guards who were armed.
Maj Gen Narin said yesterday that so far police have arrested two suspects in the case but refused to provide details, citing the ongoing investigation.
On September 10, police arrested seven suspects, including three Chinese men, for allegedly kidnapping three victims in Sihanoukville’s Pi commune.
Earlier this month, police also reported arresting six people for allegedly threatening and extorting money from a Chinese national.
Mok Mao, 35, a Sihanoukville resident yesterday expressed his concern over the recent incidents.
“Of course, I am concerned about my safety,” he said. “I appeal to the authorities to strengthen security and stop such incidents.”
Mao noted that crimes had been reduced after the mass departure of the Chinese from the city early this year. “I do not know why the crimes have started to re-emerge now since most of them have not returned to Sihanoukville yet.”
The influx of Chinese nationals to Sihanoukville in the past year has been a hot topic in Cambodia, with many concerned over a reported spike in crime.
The city was even cited by international media as a “dangerous town” due to the high number of crimes, especially committed by some Chinese criminals.
However, the reports of tens of thousands Chinese leaving the coastal city after Prime Minister Hun Sen last year issued a directive banning all online and arcade gambling in the Kingdom in a bid to safeguard security and public order as well as concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year, the National Police formed an 11-member working group, consisting of senior officers from various departments, to evaluate the security situation in the province. It reported that an increase in Chinese investments led to Chinese setting up criminal networks.
In response, Maj Gen Narin said authorities installed 600 security cameras in 500 central locations in Sihanoukville, including along 34 newly-constructed roads.