Traffic jams in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district around 7:30 p.m. Thursday evening led to an altercation that turned lethal, with two people shot dead and another seriously injured, police said.
Phnom Penh Municipal Police spokesman San Sokseyha said on Friday that according to preliminary investigations, the shooting was caused by traffic jams. Authorities were still hunting for the perpetrators, he said.
It was a “personal” dispute, Sokseyha said, as those involved became unable to tolerate each other in the traffic.
“I can’t confirm anything yet, because it is under investigation,” he said. “Let the expert officers work first, because sometimes we talk too much and it affects the inquiries.”
Pur Senchey district police chief Morn Vuthy declined to comment.
Civil society representatives raised concerns over the recurrence of traffic-related shootings, saying people needed to be able to trust law enforcement rather than take matters into their own hands.
“A country that has laws that aren’t enforced can become anarchic with the use of weapons. To prevent that, there needs to be strict action,” said Licadho monitoring manager Am Sam Ath.
If authorities do not arrest and punish the perpetrators, drivers will become afraid, he added.
Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun said both the city’s frequent traffic jams and the country’s loose control of weapons needed to be dealt with.
“If this happens too often, the mental health of the city’s commuters will be seriously affected,” Chanroeun said. “He could have conflicts, from words to beatings, causing injury or even loss of life.”
Yong Kim Eng, president of People Center for Development and Peace, said people need to find patience in traffic jams, and talk instead of using violence.
“In the case of those who use weapons … there should not be tolerance or exemption. There should be severe punishment so that they do not continue to do so,” he said.
Previously, on December 30, a man, Ear Naren, shot a Phnom Penh police officer to death over a traffic dispute. Naren was found by police in Kratie province in January, and killed during a shoot-out in the forest.