Police are searching for a man behind the mysterious abduction of a 9-year-old Phnom Penh girl who was lured from her school and taken to a “hospital” where she was tied up and muffled with tape before being released unharmed about eight hours later, according to her mother and a police officer.
The girl had only been attending the primary school in Chamkar Mon district’s Tuol Svay Prey II commune for two days after transferring from a private school nearby. At about 10 a.m. on Friday, she was confronted by a man in the school compound who told her that her mother had been in a severe traffic accident, said the victim’s mother, 33.
After saying she didn’t need to alert her teacher, the man told her: “Please run quickly to come to see your mother. Your mother’s head has cracked and is covered in a lot of blood,” the mother said.
He also played a recording of a man claiming to be the girl’s father encouraging her to go with him to see her mother.
The mother said some of her daughter’s classmates had told her that they saw her daughter willingly hop on the back of the man’s motorbike.
“Before he called my daughter, he had called a few schoolgirls already, but they didn’t follow him,” her mother said.
The girl told her mother she was taken to a large empty building, which the man told her was a hospital. He tied her hands together and covered her mouth with black tape before leading her to an upstairs room where a woman was lying with an IV drip in her arm, her mother said.
The woman on the bed said the girl was not the right one and told the man to send her back, the mother said.
She was abandoned at the Mondial Center, a wedding banquet hall in Tuol Kok district, and given 5,000 riel, or about $1.25, by the man, her mother said. The girl caught a tuk-tuk back to her school at about 6 p.m.
After reporting the incident to police, the mother said she saw security camera footage of the stranger driving off with her daughter. Her daughter was unharmed, she said, but would be moving to another school.
Commune police chief Say Chamroeun said the motivation behind the abduction remained unclear, but police were searching for the suspect.