A 4-year-old girl was abducted outside her home in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district on Tuesday morning, leading to a $500 reward for her safe return and conflicting reports from police officials and an NGO about the alleged kidnapper.
Eric Meldrum, investigations director at the NGO Agape International Missions, said a female beggar, believed to be Vietnamese, took the girl, Kong Vanda, at about 10 a.m. from Svay Pak commune, an area once notorious for child prostitution.
“The suspect had been begging for old clothes at the house and whilst Vanda’s grandmother went to get some clothes for her, the suspect disappeared with Vanda who was in front of the house at the time,” Mr. Meldrum wrote in an email sent to media outlets.
However, Him Kimsan, the police chief of Svay Pak commune, said the child’s parents are divorced and the father may be involved in her abduction.
“We suspect the father may have let someone take his kid so she can live with him without alerting the mother,” he said.
The child’s relatives reported the abduction directly to the NGO, a Christian organization focusing on sex trafficking in Cambodia, which has a center in the area, according to Mr. Meldrum. The NGO put up the reward for information leading to the girl’s safe return.
“The suspect [was]…wearing a yellow hat, a long sleeved pink shirt and black trousers and can speak Khmer, Vietnamese and English,” Mr. Meldrum said, adding that she was believed to be about 30.
Mr. Meldrum, a former police detective in the U.K, said the woman might have taken the child to help her while begging on the streets of Phnom Penh, and the pair could turn up in the city’s central tourist areas.
However, Mr. Kimsan said the victim’s mother filed a complaint with police at about noon on Tuesday and reported that her older daughter had seen Vanda, who was wearing a short-sleeved yellow shirt and matching shorts, leave the area on the back of a motorbike with an unidentified man.
Mr. Kimsan’s deputy, Math Razad, said the girl is also known by her Vietnamese name, Daing.