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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Female expat fends off abduction attempt

Female expat fends off abduction attempt

FOUR men attempted to abduct an Australian woman after forcing her moto-taxi to a

halt on Monivong Bld about 11pm on Saturday, Feb 22.

The assailants rejected the woman's offer of money and tried to force her into their

car. After a tug-of-war - with the woman clinging onto her moto driver while being

hit over the head by two of the attackers as they tried to pull her away - the would-be

kidnappers gave up and left.

The woman's moto driver was wearing a police uniform, which did not deter the attack.

The incident is believed to be the first attempted abduction of an expatriate woman

in Phnom Penh.

Meanwhile, there has been a fresh spate of robberies, in what one NGO official suggested

could be a rise in crime against expatriates in the run-up to the Khmer New Year.

In one case, a bullet was fired when a foreigner tried to push away the gun of a

robber.

The attempted abduction came after the woman, an NGO worker, left the Heart of Darkness

bar and was traveling on a moto-taxi down Monivong toward the Japanese Bridge.

A Cambodian friend, in police uniform, was driving the moto - a precaution the woman

started taking after she was first robbed at gunpoint in January - and another foreign

woman was on a second moto-taxi some distance behind her.

The victim said that as her moto neared the French Embassy on Monivong, a car went

past and then swung in toward the curb, blocking her path.

"We had to stop. There were four guys in the car, all armed. Two of the guys

got out to come over to me. I pulled out my wallet. I had only $5 in it and I started

to take it out.

"One of the guys said 'No' with a smile on his face. They didn't even want money.

Just the smile he gave me...I thought 'No way I'm getting in that car."

The two men approached her, still sitting on the moto, from behind and grabbed her

arms to pull her backwards.

"I immediately did a bear hug on the moto driver, like 'If I'm going, he's going

too'. They hit me four times on the head with a gun butt. I didn't see the gun, but

by the gouge marks on my head...

"We stayed on the moto. They kept trying to grab me and hit me at the same time.

My moto driver kept saying 'No problem, no problem' to them, very politely, but they

just ignored him. There were people along Monivong, but only Khmers and nobody did

anything."

The tussle continued for less than a minute, and the motorbike fell over, the woman

still clasping the driver. Eventually the two offenders let go of her, joined the

other two in the car and drove off.

The woman said she wanted to warn expatriates to be careful. "I'd just hate

to see that happen to any other female."

The offenders' car was a black Nissan four-door sedan with the steering wheel on

the left side. The rear of the car appeared to be "rounded" and the side

windows had tinting which didn't go all the way down the glass.

She said she didn't get a good look at the four men but possibly they were Chinese-Khmers.

One wore a white t-shirt and another a pink shirt.

The woman said that the next day her boyfriend filed a report to the local police

station, but "they said they didn't know what category to put the crime in".

Meanwhile, a shot was fired during a robbery of Irishman Garvan O'Keeffe while he

was traveling on a moto-taxi down St 360 about 9pm Feb 25.

O'Keeffe said two men in civilian clothes on a moto pulled up to his moto-taxi, and

the pillion passenger pointed a pistol at him.

"He looked away, in front of him, and at that time I pushed the gun away and

the two motos fell over, me on top of him. He fired the gun as we landed on top of

each other and the bullet landed someplace by my legs.

"I pushed the gun into the guy's belly...he shouted to the other guy to hit

me, and he reached to lift up his shirt for a gun.

"I ran as fast as I could - too fast, because I fell over. I got up and they

were there. They put a gun to my head and I let them take my wallet."

The robbers, who O'Keeffe said were dressed in cheap clothes like those worn by moto

drivers, got away with about $400 worth of riels, Thai baht and US dollars.

O'Keeffe said he had reacted instinctively when first presented with the gun, and

in hindsight should have just raised his hands and turned over his money.

It was the second time in a month he had been shot at, after an NGO car he was traveling

in had been hit by a soldier's bullet in Battambang.

Barnaby Jones, security coordinator for the CCC, said another incident last week

saw expatriates stopped by three men near the Princess Hotel on Monivong Blvd.

The three men claimed they were police officers and frisked the two expats, travel

agency employees, before relieving them of a total of $2,500.

On Feb 27, a man in military uniform on a moto unsuccessfully tried to grab a bag

from two Westerners crossing Monivong about 6.45pm.

Barnaby Jones said that, until the recent incidents, there had been few robberies

reported since a rash of them before the Chinese New Year.

"To me, it looks like it could be the same as last year, it may be starting

in the build-up to the Khmer New Year again."

Noting that large amounts of cash were taken in two of the robberies, he warned that

"it will make people think that everybody carries a lot of money".

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