Officers at the Kampot provincial police’s serious crimes bureau are continuing to search for a group of gunmen who opened fire on So Nguon Group security guards, killing one person and seriously injuring another on the morning of November 18.
Provincial police chief Mao Chanmathurith told The Post on November 19 that one of the guards – 27-year-old Nuon Pheaktra from Svay Rieng province – was shot in the armpit while travelling in a car inspecting an acacia plantation in Prey Peay village in Chhouk district’s Trapaing Phlaing commune.
He said another security guard named Phorn Da, a 31-year-old from Pursat province, was also in the car and was seriously injured. Da was sent to a hospital in Phnom Penh.
“After the shooting, the police searched and confiscated two homemade guns. We believe we could identify those gunmen. The group consisted of about four or five people,” Chanmathurith said.
Chanmathurith did not disclose the armed suspects’ identities, citing an ongoing investigation.
He said the police would try to locate the perpetrators and hand them over to the court.
Chanmathurith said the murder is suspected to be related to a land dispute because many families have protested and accused the So Nguon Group of encroaching on their land. But the company also accused villagers of invading the company’s land, to which it claimed to have a legal title since 2015.
So Nguon Group chairman So Nguon told The Post that the shooting was an attempted murder.
He said he was travelling with the security guards on that morning to check the growth of acacia trees in a concession area when the gunmen attacked.
He added the company had received the investment rights to develop the land from the government through the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries.
“The gunmen were aiming for me because I was in the car. They fired about 10 shots at my car, killing one security guard and injuring another in the throat.
“At first I thought they used improvised guns to fire on us, but after we brought the victim for surgery at Preah Ang Duong Hospital [in Phnom Penh], we found that the bullet in his throat was from an AK-47 assault riffle. At this time, the injured victim is recovering.”
Nguon called on the authorities to investigate and arrest the armed groups to provide justice to the victims.