Two sisters were kidnapped after four gunmen wearing RCAF uniforms robbed their parents of $750 cash and some gold earrings in Kompong Thom province Saturday night, police said.
The four men entered Chorn Ren’s home in Tnot Chum commune, Baray district at 9:30 pm and took his two daughters, Chorn Naren, 22, and Chorn Ra, 16, into the jungle that straddles Kompong Thom and Kompong Chhnang provinces.
Police suspect the gunmen are among a group that has been kidnapping people in the province since early 1998. Kompong Thom provincial police Deputy Chief Hang Sithim said that the group is allegedly headed by a man named Tong Houn.
“We are concerned about the victims’ lives in the jungle with the gunmen,” Hang Sithim said. “We are cooperating with Kompong Chhnang provincial police to sneak into the jungle and secure the female victims.”
In 2001 there was a rash of 23 reported hostage-taking incidents in the province, with as many as four people taken at a time and families asked for an average of $200 ransom.
Several victims were tortured while in captivity, but all were released alive.
The Ministry of Interior’s elite Flying Tigers unit began a crackdown in October 2002 that dramatically slowed the pace of the kidnappings. In 2003 police said they had busted four of the five kidnapping rings operating in the area surrounding Baray district, but Tong Houn and his brother Tong Him eluded capture.
Their kidnappings were generally characterized by excessive violence and large numbers of people taken from remote locations.
They would release one of the captives after five to seven days to return home and appeal for money.
No information or demands had been received from the Chorn sisters’ kidnappers on Sunday.
“What else do they want?” Hang Sithim asked.
He added that there are no RCAF soldiers in Baray district, which is controlled exclusively by police.