A 28-year-old French woman was killed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday when she was reportedly dragged off a motorcycle taxi by handbag snatchers who pulled her into the path of an approaching mini-van, traffic police said.
Aurelia Lacroix was struck by the mini-van after being pulled off the motorbike around noon on Mao Tse Tung Boulevard by two young men on another motorbike who tried to snatch the victim’s handbag, said Pen Sun, chief of the municipal traffic accident bureau.
“This case is not a traffic accident. [Lacroix] was pulled from the motorbike by bag snatchers,” Pen Sun said by telephone, adding that the woman died immediately after being hit by the van.
Ouch Sokhon, Chamkar Mon district police chief, said Wednesday evening that his office didn’t have any suspects.
“We have brought in witnesses for collecting information about the offenders,” he said.
Municipal police chief Touch Naruth said that police were experiencing difficulty investigating the death as both the drivers of the motorcycle taxi Lacroix was on and the mini-van that hit her fled the scene.
“We lack witnesses. The moto-dop left after the accident occurred along with the mini-van,” he said.
Because of conflicting witness testimony and the fact that the victim’s bag had not been taken, Touch Naruth said that police have not ruled out that Lacroix’s death was due simply to a traffic accident.
“Our police are investigating whether it was a traffic accident or a bag snatching,” Touch Naruth said. “The victim’s belongings were still with her.”
The French Embassy declined comment.
Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema could not be reached for comment. Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun declined to comment when contacted by telephone.