Residents in Ratanakkiri province are reeling after the brutal rape and murder of an 18-year-old high school student and indigenous community activist whose body was found on a cassava farm on Tuesday.
Police say the teenager, Keil Leap, appeared to have been raped and strangled by two to three assailants, who also broke her kneecaps and dumped her body near Changra village in Lumphat district’s Batang commune.
“Commune, district and provincial police continue searching and investigating, but we still have not found any evidence or proof of who is the suspect yet,” Batang Commune Police Chief Leang Nea said yesterday.
Leap, who was ethnically Tampuon, was a high school student in Banlung town and an active volunteer with the Cambodian Indigenous Youth Association.
Keing Lisa, a 22-year-old university student and friend of Leap’s, said the teenager was passionate about raising awareness about minority rights and educating other members of the community.
“She was so active, smart and friendly, and made lots of friends,” Lisa said.
“We were so shocked when we found out she died . . . I never saw that she had any [romantic] relationship or conflict with anyone.”
In a tribute posted to the Cambodian Indigenous Youth Association’s Facebook page, Leap can be seen in photographs wearing traditional dress and attending cultural events and workshops.
“We all remember your activities helping our community and your goodwill as an ethnic minority to develop our community and our country,” the group said in the post. “Rest in peace, sister!”
Leap lived with her parents in Lumphat district and went to school in Banlung town. She appeared to be on her way home from school when she was attacked, police said.
Nea, the police chief, said it is unlikely that Leap was targeted because of her ethnicity or activism.
“We believe it could be a love triangle or personal conflict, as none of the victim’s property was taken,” he said.