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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kidnapped NGO man lost and naked

Kidnapped NGO man lost and naked

An NGO worker who was taken hostage in north-east Cambodia in late August spent two

days wandering nearly naked in thick forest before being rescued by police.

Armed kidnappers demanded $5,000 ransom for two employees of a local NGO, the Cambodia

Family Development Service (CFDS) which operates in Mondolkiri. They threatened to

kill Touch Sina unless his colleague Lon Bondaul returned in four hours with the

cash and left it on a motorbike in the forest.

John Phay, CFDS country director, said that by the time Bondaul returned with 1.7

million riel (around $425), Touch Sina, who was left wearing only his underpants,

had already disappeared into the forest.

"[Bondaul] left the money on top of the motorcycle and when he had gone 100

meters he turned around and it was gone," Phay said. "We haven't got the

money back."

Phay said the incident was a one-off robbery, a case of mistaken identity that was

not directed at his organization. "They were in the wrong place at the wrong

time and there was some guy who probably wanted to rob someone else like a businessman,"

he said.

However international NGO Oxfam, which funds the local NGO, said the kidnapping was

a deliberate attack.

"I think it may be the case that the NGO was targeted because people sometimes

mistakenly feel that NGOs are cash rich when in fact that is rarely the case,"

said Mike Ounsted, an Oxfam director.

He added that Oxfam particularly wanted to help disadvantaged people in remote areas,

and warned kidnappers to think about the consequences of their actions.

"I would also hope that would-be hijackers think very carefully about donors

and the work our partners are doing," he said. "This could have a negative

effect on the ability of partners to deliver aid relief."

Ounsted said that although the kidnapping was unusual, he thought it might have happened

to other Oxfam partners before.

"I think it is important for both donors and NGOs to look at how they are perceived,"

he said. "We are concerned about the safety of our partners especially coming

up to the general elections next year. We hope they will look at their security arrangements

and we will also look at ours."

One of the suspects was captured by Mondolkiri police on August 22, and two others

were arrested in Kampong Cham province on September 3.



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