BRITISH nationals were warned by embassy officials on Tuesday (April 19) not to
travel out of city areas without a police escort as it was claimed the Khmer
Rouge were deliberately targeting Westerners for kidnap.
came in the wake of the abduction of three Western expatriates, two Britons, and
an Australian, who were forced from their taxi at gunpoint on Route 4, 100 km
northeast of Sihanoukville on April 11.
A week later an American
expatriate was shot and wounded as he drove along the same road on a motorbike,
30 km south of Kompong Speu, a US embassy official said. He refused to identify
the victim, citing privacy laws.
The man, an NGO worker in his twenties,
was flown to Bangkok for treatment to a bullet wound in his foot and a graze in
his neck, caused when another round came within inches of killing
The three held on the road to Sihanoukville were Briton Dominic
Chappell, 25, his Australian girlfriend Kellie Wilkinson, 24 and their friend
Tina Dominy, also in her 20s.
Mr Chappell and Ms Wilkinson run a
restaurant called Cafe Rendezvous in the Sihanoukville, which is popular with
the expatriate community.
An embassy spokesman confirmed the travel
warning issued on April 19, had been passed on to all 400 expatriates registered
with the British mission.
He said : "Reconfirming that foreigners may be
targeted for abduction, Britons and their staff should confine their work to
Phnom Penh, Battambang, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. They should only drive
between these places under police protection.
"We have asked for
additional police protection for British citizens and the Ministry of the
Interior have said they will try their best."
The US Embassy also issued
a travel warning. It said: "Please excercise extreme caution when travelling
outside the main cities. Travel only during daylight hours, preferably between
0900 and 1500 hours and only in convoy."
Embassy officials publicly
refused to elaborate on the source of their reports that the KR were targetting
Westerners but sources said that they were from local KR commanders. A British
Embassy official said the advice not to travel without police escort was given
out after further weight was lent to the validity of the
Diplomats claimed they had evidence of a directive from KR
leadership to field commanders throughout the country to target Westerners to be
used as leverage in political negotiations with the Royal Government.
The sources said their intelligence indicated that the commanders had
been told they could hold Westerners for up to two months but were not allowed
to harm them.
NGOs, many of whom have Westerners working in rural area,
had yet to react to the travel warnings as the Post went to press, but at least
one had temporarily withdrawn workers from Kompong Chhnang
Another convoy of 30 NGO vehicles which was to have travelled
down to Sihanoukville for the Khmer New Year did not run after news of the
It was still unclear exactly who was holding the three
hostages as the Post went to press. British Embassy officials cited Khmer Rouge
involvement but some diplomatic sources said the kidnappers were former
guerrillas turned bandits.
The Khmer Rouge has denied publicly it was
behind the kidnapping of the three, though it admitted being responsible for the
abduction of American aid worker Melissa Himes on March 21. This week she had
still not been released despite a letter to the faction from His Majesty King
The King and Co-Premier Norodom Ranariddh have also
been asked to intervene in the cases of the other three.
reports indicated the trio's captors were force-marching the hostages up to 10
km each day to confound authorities.
While Chappell and Dominy are
British passport holders they have lived in Hong Kong for some time. Mr
Chappell, who hails originally from Stoke, England met Ms Wilkinson, from
Melbourne while they were working in Hong Kong in the restaurant trade and as
A British Embassy official said he had been told by Cambodian
authorities that the Westerners were being held in the foothills of a range of
mountains separating Kampot and Kompong Som provinces.
heavily-forested area lies about 20 km from Route 4 between Phnom Penh and
Sihanoukville, where the three were snatched from a taxi on Monday.
an area which has long been under the control of the faction, which is blamed
for the deaths of one million Cambodians during four years in power in the
The diplomat said no ransom demands had been received but
others, including an unidentified police captain in Sihanoukville, said the
guerrillas wanted $10,000 a head for the Westerners' release.
commander of the area assured the British Embassy official that no military
action to free the hostages would be taken without consultation with British and
Another Western diplomat and local residents said
the trio spent their first night in captivity at a saw mill jointly owned by the
guerrillas and a Khmer businessman.
They then were marched 10 km to a
Khmer Rouge village where they spent their second night.
Wilkinson's father Peter and brother Sean were taken to Sihanoukville under
police escort where they met British and Australia officials who have been
investigating the kidnappings.