Bandits Rob Late Ratanakkiri Official’s Widow

Three masked bandits ransacked a ranch in Ratanakkiri province’s Kon Mom district early Friday morning, taking at least $20,000 worth of jewelry be­longing to the widow of the late Ra­ta­nakkiri deputy governor Bun­ham Aunmony, police said Friday.

Armed with a pistol, the bandits sneaked into a cashew farm in O’Chek point, Ta Ang commune, at about 2 am. They threat­ened the eight people in­side, in­cluding widow Phuoy Phou­mi, bound their hands behind their backs and took everything of value. No one was hurt. Phuoy Phoumi’s jewelry collection included diamond necklaces and rings.

The robbery was the biggest in Rattanakiri in recent months, but minor thefts and robberies are increasing in the province, said Rattanakiri judicial police Chief Chea Bunthoeun.

“There is an increase here be­cause newer people are moving to live here, even criminals from the lowland areas,” he said.

Villagers said that they now fear for their safety because of the recent increase in crime.

“This is not the first time a robbery has occurred here,” said Kong Chan, second deputy chief for Banlung district’s La Banseak commune. “Crime has become common, and it frightens people in this remote province.

“Minor crimes are driving us crazy,” he said. “People have even started stealing chickens. I’ve lost a couple of them.”

He criticized the court and police for corruption and inaction.

Judicial police Chief Chea Bunthoeun denied the allegation.

Chan Saveth, a spokesman for rights group Adhoc, said minor crimes such as theft are significantly in­creasing in many prov­inces. Villagers and authorities are now more diligently watching over their property, some even standing guard all night, he said.

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