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Two slain in $310,000 payroll robbery

Two slain in $310,000 payroll robbery

EIGHT robbers stole $310,000 in payroll receipts from the Won Rex garment factory

on September 9. Seven of the suspects escaped, police said. One of the thieves was

killed in a shoot-out with security guards. One guard was shot dead and another seriously

injured.

Municipal police deputy commissioner Muong Khim said it was the biggest robbery of

its kind in Cambodia.

"These kind of heists have happened before, but previous robbers only stole

$50,000 or $60,000," he said. "In my experience, we have tried to crack

down on some of those crimes."

Police said it is difficult to confront or hunt down the criminals as they are usually

heavily armed. The robbers in the most recent incident carried AK-47 assault rifles

and K-59 pistols.

The heist occurred near the garment factory in Dangkao district about 10 km from

Phnom Penh. The money was being transported in a car carrying four guards and an

accountant from the First Commercial Bank. The money was to pay salaries for the

factory's 3, 800 workers.

At 1:20 pm, eight gunmen waiting by the factory crashed their Camry into the vehicle

that was transporting the cash. One of the robbers jumped from the car and fired

his gun at the security guards. Bou Pheap, one of the guards in the car, was shot

in the chest. The bullet collided with a phone in his front pocket.

"My Nokia suffered instead of me," he said. "I'm so happy, it's like

I was born again."

He returned fire at his assailants until running out of ammunition and escaped.

Two more people in the car, including the accountant, were able to hide inside the

vehicle.

Two security guards in the car tried to escape, but were shot. One, Som Sothyvuth,

an off-duty Flying Tiger police officer, was killed. Lim Hong, the other, was seriously

injured.

Security firms consider Cambodia one of the most dangerous countries in which to

offer "cash and transit services", said Chris Berger, country director

of the security firm MPA. The country's lax law enforcement and proliferation of

heavy weaponry makes it an easy target for criminals.

Since March there have been five attempts at armed robbery. Three of them were successful.

In a robbery in April, several people were killed. MPA recently purchased a five-ton

armored vehicle to offer high-security transport services. Companies have reportedly

been clamoring to use it.

Chea Vichea, president of Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia,

said this type of robbery has damaged business here.

Ker Soksidney, a consultant with the Ministry of Social Affairs, said: "I cannot

say how many of these problems are solved by the police. We are afraid of losing

investors if Cambodia has the problems like this."

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