Friday, 9 January 2009

Govt to investigate 'tiger head' group in relation to bomb plot

Lay Sokha, Mondulkiri provincial governor, is the only person to have used the name Tiger Head Movement to describe the bandits so far. When asked about the moniker, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith commented, "ask the involved themselves about their name".

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun and Thomas Gam Nielsen
Friday, 09 January 2009

A group of bandits thought to be called the ‘Tiger Head Movement’ are being investigated in relation to anti-government activities

BANDITS in Mondulkiri province have been accused by local authorities of having anti-government intentions, with Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith saying authorities now plan to investigate whether the group is connected to last week's foiled bomb plot in Phnom Penh.

"It is too soon to judge, [but] we plan to investigate whether the movement and the bombs are connected," he told the Post Thursday, adding that he could not reveal details of the scale of the alleged movement.

"We are monitoring them, but we do not know their goals and activities," he said.

On Tuesday, Mondulkiri provincial Governor Lay Sokha announced that around 300 RCAF soldiers were hunting for between six and nine armed bandits who he referred to as the Tiger Head Movement.

"We are working in close cooperation with the Kratie governor, and we have deployed some 300 RCAF troops to hunt the armed bandits who are operating in Kratie and Mondulkiri," he said, adding that he could not disclose further information about the movement's activities for fear of jeopardising the ongoing investigation.

Kham Phoeun, Kratie provincial governor, said Tuesday that he had heard about the case and that he also planned to investigate and was planning a no-holds-barred search for the bandits.

At the provincial office of local rights group Adhoc, coordinator Sam Sarin said that he knew of the armed bandits, but that he had not heard them referred to as the Tiger Head Movement. He said he did not have any information connecting them to anti-government activities.

"I have heard about five armed bandits wearing military uniforms who robbed 10 travellers in October 2008 in an isolated forest," he said, adding that the gang had allegedly carried AK-47 assault rifles. He said the incident occurred in the Sen Monorom district.

'Movement' a myth

Opposition lawmaker Yim Sovann said that he did not believe in the existence of an armed group named Tiger Head Movement, blaming "powerful people" for creating the term.

"[For the Tiger Head Movement to exist] is very ridiculous," said the Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker.

"The CPP wants to create the story and later blame it on democrats who do not support the ruling party," he said, before urging the government to search for the real facts in the case.

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