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Cambodia Promises Harsher Drug Crackdown as Arrests Soar

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen arrives before a session of the National Assembly of Cambodia, in Phnom Penh, Jan. 31, 2017.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen pledged on Wednesday to intensify a campaign against drugs after the arrest of more than 2,400 people for drug-related offenses in a month.

The campaign since January in the Southeast Asian country has drawn parallels with the drug crackdown in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte, but Hun Sen said that in Cambodia it would not lead to bloodshed.

Philippines faces drug war

More than 7,000 people have been killed in the Philippines in the seven-month-old drug war under Duterte.

“In the Philippines and other countries, they ordered for the killings of people right on the spot,” Hun Sen told a ceremony at a pagoda. “Cambodia won't allow this to happen.”

Over the past month, 2,428 people have been arrested in Cambodia for drug-related offenses, with 1,243 arrested for using drugs, according to official data. In the whole of last year, 9,800 people were arrested in drug cases.

Official appeals for help

Hun Sen appealed to the public for help with the campaign, saying that parents with children who are addicted to drugs should keep them at home.

“The issue here is whether you must have your children in prison or educate them not to use drugs,” Hun Sen said. “The good choice is that parents must control their children well.”

Police in the Philippines have suspended anti-narcotics operations, saying they must first root out police corruption after the kidnap and killing of a South Korean businessman by drug squad officers.