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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - $50,000 gold heist leaves one wounded, many scared: Police

$50,000 gold heist leaves one wounded, many scared: Police

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Yet Phalla, the robbed money exchanger, said business would continue. "But I'm concerned about being robbed again. I will request that the market chief strengthens security."

Armed robbers in Pailin made off with gold and currency; now market vendors are saying they need beefed-up security to keep working.

POLICE said they are looking for three armed robbers who stole US$50,000 worth of merchandise from a gold shop and 20,000 Thai baht ($573) from a currency exchange stand in a Pailin province market Sunday afternoon, shooting the niece of the gold seller in the process.

Ourn Rin, police chief for Pailin district, said the robbers entered Samaki Market at noon on Sunday and fired three warning shots in the air in an attempt to get the gold seller to flee. When he did not do so, a struggle ensued and the owner's niece was shot in the back.

we are not prepared to go back to start business at the market.

"She was not seriously wounded and is being treated at a hospital," Ourn Rin said.

The robbers fled with the gold and money on a motorbike, he said.  

Leng Chantha, the gold seller who was robbed, claimed the police had underestimated the value of the gold stolen from his stand, saying the

real value was $100,000.

Ourn Rin said police saw the robbers in a nearby forest and were attempting to surround and arrest them. As of Monday afternoon they had not been caught.

Chan Chhay, provincial police chief, said Monday that more than 100 military police officers, and soldiers had been deployed to look for the robbers with some being stationed on main roads in the province and others surveying local residents to determine the robbers' identities.

Leng Chantha did not open his stand Monday, citing his fear of the attackers. "My wife and I are panicked," he said. "We have lost a large amount of gold and we are not prepared to go back to start business at the market."

Improve market security

Yet Phalla, the money exchanger who was robbed, returned to the market, though she expressed concern for the vendors' security.

Ourn Rin said there was only a handful of market police who worked at Samaki Market and noted that they are not allowed to carry guns.

"That's why the robbers are not afraid to rob the place," he said. "The robbery on Sunday showed us that we need to strengthen security at the market. I might request to have rifles for the market police to secure the safety of the vendors."

He said the robbery was the first of the year to happen in the province. 

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