A young mother was shot dead at point-blank range while taking her newborn baby to a health clinic in Phnom Penh yesterday morning, in what appeared to be a cold-blooded execution.
Thoang Makara, aged 23, was gunned down in front of her 10-week-old son, her mother and shocked witnesses after leaving the Chamkadong Health Centre in the capital’s Dangkor district – where the newborn had received vaccinations.
As the new mother approached her car, a gunman – who police believe had sat on a bench for nearly an hour waiting for her to leave – jumped on a motorbike and fired at her at point-blank range.
The first two shots missed, but the third struck her in the head, killing her instantly.
Speaking at Russey Sanh pagoda, where her daughter’s body was being kept yesterday, seemingly calm 63-year-old Chey Mony described the terrifying ordeal and her fruitless attempt to grab the fleeing murderer while holding on to her grandchild.
“I shouted for help many times, but no one dared to intervene. My left hand was holding my young grandson and my right hand caught the motorbike. I was shot at, but I was not injured,” she said.
Witnesses yesterday described Thoang Makara’s attempt to protect herself during the attack.
“The woman ducked, covering her head with her hands, but the suspect shot her once more in the head,” eyewitness Pen Rin said.
“She died right outside [the clinic] in a pool of blood.”
“It was terrible. It was so sad. This is the first time in my life I’ve seen anything like this,” said 20-year-old Heng Malida, a worker at the health centre.
Police are investigating the possibility that the crime could be connected with a love triangle involving the victim’s husband, who is now living in New Zealand with his first wife.
The husband’s first wife discovered his relationship with his second wife Thoang Makara “about a month ago”, said Dangkor district police chief Born Sam Arth.
No arrests have been made but authorities are working hard to arrest the escaped gunman, he added.