Double Rape Adds to Wave of Gang Crime

Police arrested nine gang members Sunday night in connection with the gang rape of two women on the outskirts of the city, police said Monday. One of the victims is the wife of a high-ranking government official and the other is her 19-year-old niece, police said.

The rape was reported a day after authorities said they plan to increase security in Phnom Penh over the next month because of fears that violence and kidnappings by teen gang members are rising.

In Sunday’s attack, police said the gang members confessed to forcing the victims off moto-taxis and into two cars near Hun Sen Park at midnight. The victims were driven six km east of Phnom Penh and raped repeatedly by the nine teens, said Khoun Sophon, penal police chief.

The suspects, between the ages of 17 and 20, told police they thought the two women were prostitutes. The women told po­lice they were out looking for their husbands in the city’s bars and casinos.

The nine gang members re­leased the two women at 1:45 am Monday near Independence Monument. The victims then told police the name of the hotel where they had overheard their alleged rapists were going.

Police said the suspects, old friends from secondary school, were caught in a hotel in Tuol Kok district at 4 am Monday and are in custody.

The attack comes during a wave of abductions in the capital. Chea Sophara, first deputy governor of Phnom Penh, announced Sunday that police will receive nine pick-up trucks, 20 walkie-talkies and additional uniforms to help bolster security before the Khmer New Year on April 13 and the elections in July.

On Monday, in a separate case, municipal police said they arrested three alleged kidnappers in connection with the abduction of a Singaporean investor for three days and the extortion of a $60,000 ransom from her family.

Four Cambodian men kidnapped the 36-year-old business-wo­man at 6:30 pm March 12 from the corner of Mon­ivong and Street 214.

She was released March 15 after her family paid the ransom and gave her abductors a mobile phone, watch and jewelry, said Ek Kret, vice chairman of municipal judicial police.

Police said they caught three suspects. Twenty-year-old Nouv Praseth was caught last Thurs­day carrying $3,400. On Friday night, police apprehended Lai Bunhen and Mon Pi­sith, both 23, in front of a Phnom Penh night club. Lai Bunhen was armed with a hand grenade that police said was confiscated as evidence. Police also said they confiscated a new BMW, new audio and video equipment, and $3,300 from the two alleged kidnappers.

Khoun Sophan, penal police chief, lauded police efforts. “After only five days, we were able to arrest three of the abductors,” he said. “Police are continuing to look for the last kidnapper.”

All three suspects are in police custody, Khoun Sophan said, and will be in court soon.

Mok Chito, chief of the foreign department of the municipal police, said police are investigating other rumored kidnappings and that many abductions are never reported to the police.

Last week, Mok Chito said kidnappers kept four Cambodians, who work with a Foster’s beer distributor, until a $100,000 ransom was paid.

The kidnapping occurred in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district last Thursday, he said. No one was harmed, the victims were released Friday and the kidnappers are still at large, Mok Chito said.

A Western security adviser said foreigners are not targeted for violent crime and kidnappings, but advised people to not fight if assaulted.

“Surrender,” the adviser said. So far it has work­ed.”

(Additional reporting by Mhari Saito)

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