The death toll stands at four one day after the end of a day-long hostage drama in the Mongkol Borei district of Banteay Meanchey province that unfolded after a suspected robbery attempt at a private health clinic went awry.
Fourteen people, including clinic staff and patients, were taken hostage after two armed men attempted to rob the clinic. When neighbors saw the robbery in progress, they called the police and the robbery turned into a hostage situation, provincial officials said.
Clinic owner Heang Seng Hern was shot dead shortly after the would-be robbers entered the house Saturday evening, said Provincial Military Police Chief Rath Sreang.
Military Policeman Theun Tola, 21, was shot in the chest by the hostage-takers when police drove the hostages and assailants from the third floor of the clinic to the second floor Sunday evening, Rath Sreang said. He was taken to a hospital but died at 9 pm, Rath Sreang said.
Gunman Hach Cheatra, 20, and another robber only identified as Roeun committed suicide by shooting themselves in the head after police used an armored personnel carrier to force their way into the clinic following a nearly five-hour gun battle.
Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the operation was not a complete success because of the deaths of the clinic owner and the police officer, but added that police can “react very quickly in remote areas of Cambodia.”
Authorities had no other option but to use force, Khieu Kanharith said. “First we tried to intimidate them and try to force them to surrender, but this did not work,” he said. “Robberies happen every day, but this one happened at the very moment when everyone is concentrating on Cambodia.”
Rath Sreang also called the mission a success because no additional hostages were killed once the operation began. He said the robbers were drug addicts who were motivated by money, not terrorism.
“These children were drug users,” he said. “When they spent all their money, they decided to rob. It is the same old motive.”