Four men were arrested in Ratanakkiri province’s Kon Mom district on Tuesday morning over the attempted murder of a married couple whom they accused of practicing witchcraft, police said.
The men—Nem Py, 37; Sath An, 27; Sa Pov, 23; and Sath Tieng, 19—attacked Sok Sor and Leang Sorn, both 52, with machetes late on Sunday night, district police chief Phok Burith said.
“The old man was cut on his left leg twice and his right arm once, while his wife was cut on her left leg. They were in a serious condition,” Mr. Burith said.
Trapaing Kraham commune police chief Se Sen said the wife also sustained cuts to her head and torso.
“After they tried to attack [the couple] multiple times, the machete blade fell out of its handle, so then the wife took her machete to attack them back, and one got cut in the arm,” Mr. Burith said. “They ran away after the wife was shouting and attacking them.”
The four men fled into the forest but later returned to their village, where they were apprehended, according to the district police chief.
“We arrested them this morning at 8:30 a.m. in Trapaing Kraham commune after we searched around to ask people some questions,” Mr. Burith said. “We sought them out, and after we asked them to take off their T-shirts we found that one had been injured.
“They confessed that they tried to kill the couple because they were witches and often cast spells on them to make them get sick and have fevers,” he said.
Allegations of witchcraft are still common in rural villages in the country, with villagers often blaming so-called sorcerers for unexpected events such as death or sickness, with revenge attacks often the result.
Earlier this month, a man in Ratanakkiri’s Bakeo district had to flee his home after receiving multiple death threats from villagers who accused him of using sorcery to make local men’s penises swell until they died.