Local media is reporting that two men have been shot dead at a casino complex in Sihanoukville – the latest in a series of violent incidents to plague the Cambodian coastal town.
According to The Khmer Times, the two Chinese nationals were shot and a third man injured in a hotel room of the Tong Fang Palirin Casino at around 10pm on Saturday night. It is unclear if those responsible were apprehended afterwards.
Authorities have spoken openly in recent times about their concerns for Sihanoukville’s rising crime rates, with Interior Minister Sar Kheng earlier this year describing the situation as “brutal”.
“Sometimes, I don’t want to look at it, but it’s unavoidable,” he said. “The pictures are very brutal and these kinds of things are being disseminated overseas to the whole world, that Cambodia is very bad, with robberies, kidnappings, threats, violence all over the place. It is not only about Sihanouk’s reputation.”
The increase in crime has been attributed to Chinese organized crime gangs – mostly linked with the proliferation of local caisnos – with the number of Chinese nationals in Sihanoukville soaring from around 80,000 in 2013 to 250,000 in 2019. Many of those are said to have relocated to escape China’s efforts to crack down on criminal syndicates.
It has also been reported that up to 90% of businesses in Sihanoukville are now owned by Chinese nationals.