As authorities investigate a mysterious kidnapping of a girl from her Phnom Penh school last week, a Kampong Cham community is reeling after the second attempted school abduction in Koh Sotin district in the past fortnight.
The bizarre abduction and return of an 8-year-old girl on Friday has anti-trafficking police combing CCTV footage to try to identify the man driving the girl away on a moto.
The girl was “shaken” after the incident, in which she was told her mother had been involved in a motorbike accident, said James McCabe of the Child Protection Unit, which is assisting the investigation.
“The victim said her hands were tied and she was gagged, but it doesn’t seem she was assaulted in any way,” he said.
She was released several hours later and given a small amount of money to take a tuk-tuk back to school. “It’s just very, very strange. If it was a case of mistaken identity, why was she gagged?” McCabe said.
The Child Protection Unit posted the following video to Facebook, apparently showing the abduction:
Meanwhile, yesterday a group of five men attempted to kidnap a 6-year-old girl from school in Psar Thmey village in Kampong Cham’s Koh Sotin district, according to the girl’s mother Hong Chhengly. As in the Phnom Penh case, the men, who wore surgical masks and sunglasses, tried to convince the girl her mother had been harmed.
The girl objected and tried to run away, attracting the attention of other students. They yelled at the would-be kidnappers who fled the scene.
That case followed a kidnapping attempt last week in Mohaleap commune, where a truck carrying five people wearing balaclavas attempted to snatch a 7-year-old girl off the road as she bicycled alongside her older sister, according to Chong Prek Deputy Village Chief Sim Khim.
“It’s a timely warning for all parents to advise your kids that you don’t go with someone you don’t know,” McCabe said.