A rash of armed robberies struck multiple businesses in Phnom Penh, Kandal, Pursat and Battambang on Friday and Saturday, resulting in one death and four arrests so far, police said.
Lieutenant General Kang Sokhorn, the deputy chief of the General Commissariat of National Police, said that his forces and the military police are now hunting for the remaining suspects. Sokhorn would not comment on whether the crimes were related as the investigations were ongoing.
“Our police have already identified the names of the armed robbers in those groups,” he said. “We have arrested some of them already and seized weapons and bullets … also some of their stolen money and jewellery.”
The suspects in the four robberies did varying amounts of damage.
In Pursat, three armed intruders shot and killed a woman who owned a Wing money transfer shop in Kravanh district during a robbery on Saturday evening. They also shot the victim’s elder brother in the hand and took about $30,000 from the victims.
“The suspects tied up the victim’s husband and ordered her to open her door. They ordered her to give them all her money, gold and jewellery,” said Vong Saveth, chief of Kravanh district police. “But after they took her belongings, they fired a bullet, hitting her below her right breast and causing her to die on the spot.”
“Immediately, her older brother tried to intervene and they shot him too, wounding the fingers on his left hand,” he added.
The suspects are still at large, according to Kheng Tito, the provincial military police commander.
In Battambang, three men and a woman were arrested on Saturday night after allegedly stealing $300,000 worth of gold and jewellery from vendors in Phsar Nath Market along with two other suspects, who remain at large.
The six alleged robbers, armed with three pistols and riding on three motorbikes, took the goods at gunpoint, according to Cheth Vanny, deputy chief of Battambang provincial police.
“The victims were robbed in front of their house after they had parked their car and were preparing to take the cases of gold and jewellery from the car into their house,” he said.
“The suspects beat the wife over the head with the butt of a gun, and fired two bullets into the ground to threaten them.”
In Kandal province, four unidentified armed suspects wielding three assault rifles and one pistol busted into a military officer’s house in Khsach Kandal district’s Prek Takov commune.
The residence doubled as a currency exchange and a Wing money transfer business.
“The robbers entered into victims’ house while they were preparing to close their shop door at night,” said Eav Chamroeun, Kandal’s chief of police.
The robbers absconded with some $30,000 worth of loot, including money, jewellery and mobile phones. They, too, remain at large.
Meanwhile, two suspects have been charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with illegal gun use under aggravated circumstances after they were arrested on Friday in Phnom Penh after allegedly shooting a motorbike rider and engaging in a shootout with police.
Am Sam Ath, senior investigator at rights group Licadho, said the recent armed robberies were symptomatic of a wider, worrying trend.
“Many people are still jobless and the lack of law enforcement doesn’t help.”