Bandits Flee, Without Hostages, After Gunfight

Kompong Thom police are looking for three suspected kidnapping ringleaders after ex­changing gunfire with them Saturday during a hostage rescue mission, police said.

The bandits kidnapped two Baray district women—Hong Run, 55, and her daughter Kok Ren, 29—around 6:40 pm Sat­urday, forcing them several hundred meters into the jungle.

Hong Run was freed to gather 5 million riel (about $1,282) in ransom for her daughter, half of which she was able to acquire, said Kompong Thom provincial Police Chief Hang Sithim. After night fell, police followed Hong Run back into the jungle and confronted the bandits, he said.

“When our police exchanged gunfire with the bandits, they had to run to escape and they abandoned their hostages,” said Baray district Governor Sok Chheng. “It was easy to rescue the hostages, safe and alive, without paying any money to the bandits.”

“We exchanged fire with the bandits for 20 minutes in the evening and around midnight we injured one of the bandits, and they escaped into the forest near Kompong Cham,” Hang Sithim said. Police identified the bandits as the brothers Tong Him and Tong Houn. The third suspect was identi­fied only as Oeun. All are from Chhuk Ksach commune in Baray district.

The Ministry of Interior had deployed its elite Flying Tigers police to Kompong Thom pro­vince to squelch the rampant banditry there, officials said.

Last month, however, shortly after the Flying Tigers were recalled to Phnom Penh to provide security for the Asean Summit, bandits kidnapped a family of four, demanding $1,000 for their release. The hostages were also rescued amid gunfire, but not before relatives paid $500.

Days later, five bandits armed with AK-47 rifles kidnapped another family of four, bound them with chains and marched them into the jungle and demanded $37,750 for their release. Those hostages too were rescued during a firefight, after they had handed $1,000 to the bandits.


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