Two of three men implicated in a kidnapping ring last month remain at large in jungles northwest of Phnom Penh, often sticking to trails once used by Khmer Rouge rebels, a top provincial military official said Wednesday.
Pak Chhorn, a 46-year-old renegade RCAF captain who once commanded the Baset district of Kampong Speu province, and his brother Pak Chhoeun, are believed to be holed up in the province’s Phnom Sruoch district, said Khim Sann, operations commander for Military Region 3 based in the province. The district, a former bastion of Khmer Rouge activity, is roughly 50 km west of Phnom Penh.
He said a third sibling, Pak Chharn, may have traveled as far as Poipet, Banteay Meanchey province, near the Thai-Cambodian border.
“We have sent troops to Poipet, and Koh Kong and Takeo provinces to arrest all the [suspected] offenders,” Khim Sann said in the telephone interview.
The three men are suspected of involvement in a kidnapping ring responsible for at least seven abductions that netted almost $500,000 in ransom. And Pak Chhorn is further suspected of involvement in the summary execution in November of four cow thieves in Kompong Speu province.
At least seven men were arrested in mid-January for links to the ring. One was identified by Khim Sann as a brother-in-law of the Paks, 38-year-old Pol Pok.
“I hope they will be arrested, [despite the fact] that they are well armed,” said Men Siborn, military police commander for the province. “There are three ways we hope to arrest them. In the first, [we] appear to their relatives and ask them to request that [the fugitives] surrender. Second, we send soldiers to the jungle to monitor areas with [bodies of] water. Thirdly, we cooperate with villagers and village authorities.”
Khim Sann noted efforts to persuade the suspects to surrender by working with relatives had already failed.