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Radio Announcer Shot in Cambodia; Political Motive Suspected

February 8, 1996

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) _ A journalist for a radio station run by Cambodia’s ruling party was shot and seriously wounded Thursday by four gunmen on motorcycles.

The attack on Ek Mongkol, the first against a journalist this year, was believed to be politically motivated.

Three journalists have been killed in suspicious circumstances since May 1993, when Cambodia held U.N.-supervised elections for its first freely elected government in decades.

Human rights groups have accused the government of trying to intimidate the press through physical attacks and legal pressure.

Mongkol, 40, was shot shortly after leaving his job at FM Radio 90 on a motorbike. The station is owned by the FUNCINPEC party of First Premier Norodom Ranariddh, who heads a coalition government.

Witnesses said Mongkol was shot three times by four gunmen wearing civilian clothes. Police said he suffered throat and chest wounds, and underwent emergency surgery at a Phnom Penh hospital. He was expected to be evacuated to Bangkok, Thailand, which has better medical facilities.

Some journalists said they believed the attack was linked to reports Mongkol did on Vietnamese aggression in Cambodia’s eastern province.

The governing party often takes a hard line against Vietnam, a politically popular position among most Cambodians. But its main coalition partner, the Cambodian People’s Party, is composed mostly of politicians who came to power under the tutelage of the Vietnamese, who invaded the country in 1978 to oust the Khmer Rouge, and occupied the country until 1989.

The Cambodian People’s Party, is believed to be the dominant power in the coalition and has earned a reputation for strong-arm tactics.

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