Cambodian police said Sunday they had arrested an American man thought to be a leader of the anti-communist rebels who attacked state offices and battled security forces in the capital last week.
Richard Kiri Kim, 51, was arrested in the northern town of Siem Reap late on Saturday and transferred to the capital where he has been interrogated by interior ministry police officials, they said.
"We have arrested a man who we believe is a mastermind of the November 24 attack which caused the death and injury of many people in the city," chief of the penal office of the interior ministry Sin Chung Hor told AFP.
"After questioning him, the man did not deny he was involved and admitted to being number two in the Cambodian Freedom Fighters."
The leader of the movement Chhun Yasith reportedly lives in the United States, and Prime Minister Hun Sen has called for his arrest and extradition.
Diplomats at the US embassy confirmed an American citizen had been arrested at the Siem Reap airport while attempting to leave the country.
"The police arrested a Cambodian-American attempting to leave via the Siem reap airport and he was brought to Phnom Penh last night. He is being held at the Ministry of Interior," a senior diplomat told AFP.
"A consular officer visited him this morning after the government gave us notification."
He said diplomats had confirmed the man was not being mistreated, but declined to comment on the allegations against him by Cambodian authorities.
Eight people were killed and 14 wounded when bands of rebels stormed government offices and a military base in the early hours of Friday morning.
One armed group of about 60 to 70 men threw grenades and exchanged gunfire with soldiers and police outside the ministry of defence and cabinet buildings after arriving at the nearby central train station.
The group dispersed after a fierce hour-long firefight with security forces.
Another band of about 10 men launched a simultaneous assault on a military barracks some 15 kilometers (nine miles) west on the outskirts of the capital.
It was the worst fighting seen in the Cambodian capital since the violent 1997 ouster of Prince Norodom Ranariddh by Prime Minister Hun Sen -- PHNOM PENH (AFP)
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