Gunmen Take Cambodian-American Hostage

Just hours after she arrived back in her native land on Friday, a Cambodian-American woman was kidnapped from her new home in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district by a group of armed men who are now presumably holding her for ransom, district po­lice said Sunday.

Klout Sothy, 39, a resident of San Jose, California, had arrived at her new home in Olympic commune, which she had planned to bless in a religious ceremony this weekend, when two men burst in and forced her at gunpoint into an idling car containing two other armed men, said Ouch Sokhon, Cham­kar Mon district deputy po­lice chief.

Police said that they have not yet heard from either the kidnappers or the family of the victim which had arrived at Phnom Penh In­ter­na­­tional Airport from California at about noon on Friday, rough­ly two hours before her kidnapping.

“We can’t do anything without a complaint from the victim’s family because the victim is in the kidnappers’ hands,” Ouch Sokhon said.

Heng Pov, municipal police com­missioner, said Sunday that he was not aware of the reported kidnapping case.

David Gainer, spokesman for the US Embassy, said that he could neither confirm the kidnapping of the Cambodian-American wo­­­man nor make any comment on the matter.

Ouch Sokhon said authorities were concerned that the hostage could be harmed and have been trying unsuccessfully to contact Klout Sothy’s husband and family. He added that this was the first kidnapping case that he had seen for “many years.”

Though kidnapping in Phnom Penh was rife in the late 1990s, a police campaign launched by then-municipal governor Chea So­phara smashed several of the foremost kidnapping gangs, leaving several key members dead and many sent to prison.

(Additional reporting by David McFadden)


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