Six Cambodians were repatriated over the weekend after being lured to Vietnam with the promise of well-paying construction work, only to be held for ransom, according to a provincial police official.
Cambodian authorities sought help from their counterparts in Vietnam last week after the men called their wives with their kidnappers’ ransom demands, Keo Sotha, who heads the Svay Rieng provincial police force’s minor crimes bureau, said on Wednesday.
“One of the men called his wife in Cambodia and told her to contact the families of the other men to send $200 each to the kidnappers,” Mr. Sotha said. “But after they collected the ransom money, they decided they did not trust the kidnappers and reported it to our police.”
“Our police cooperated with the Vietnamese police to search for the victims,” he added. “The Vietnamese police found them and sent them back to Cambodia.”
Mr. Sotha said he did not know exactly what day the Cambodians were rescued, but that they had returned on Saturday.
There were contradictory accounts of the circumstances that led to the kidnappings.
Mr. Sotha said the six were construction workers in Bavet City and were approached by a Vietnamese broker promising the same work at $10 a day across the border.
“The broker told them he would find work for them about 20 km from Cambodia and that they could leave in the morning and come back in the afternoon. But the broker lied and took them to a southern province,” where he passed them on to the kidnappers, he said.
“They are lucky that they were rescued on time. I guess they would have been used as slave fishermen,” he added.
According to an article published Tuesday by Vietnam’s state-run Thanh Nien News, however, the Cambodians were already working in Vietnam when they met the broker, who passed them off to the kidnappers in Ho Chi Minh City. It said they were held in a hotel room after refusing to work as offshore fishermen.
Vietnamese police, it said, were tipped off by a suspicious neighbor and arrested the three kidnappers but were still searching for the broker.