A prominent Cambodian journalist who worked for
a pro-opposition newspaper was shot dead Friday along with his son in the
capital Phnom Penh. Human rights groups say that the attack is meant to
intimidate journalists and the public ahead of Cambodia's upcoming general
elections while the government has condemned the killing and pledged to catch
the killers. Rory Byrne has this report for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Khem Sambo and his 21-year-old son were riding a
motorcycle Friday afternoon when they were each shot twice by a man on another
motorcycle. They both died later in hospital.
Sambo, 47, reported on
corruption, land grabbing and other social issues in Cambodia for the opposition
newspaper Moneaseka Khmer.
rights advocate Theary Seng says that the killings have all the hallmarks of a
"He's a well known journalist with an opposition
voice who has been very critical of the government. It was intentional because
there were at least five bullets sprayed on this man so it has all the
indications of a political assassination," said Seng.
The killings of
Sambo and his son follow at least half a dozen other killings in recent months
that are thought to be politically motivated. They come just two weeks before
Cambodia's national elections and are intended to send a message to voters, says
"There is a pattern of killings," he said. "The killings are
concentrated a few months before the elections. The other pattern is that it's
done in broad daylight, its done in a public space, so that the public can get
the message which is: be careful if you go to a voting booth on the
Human rights groups say that Sambo is the 12th journalist to have
been killed for his work since 1992. None of the killers have been found.
Speaking to reporters in Phnom Penh Saturday Cambodian information Minister
Khieu Kanharith condemned the killings and said that the "culprits cannot be
forgiven and must be found."