Kompong Thom Bandits Abduct 2 Women

Though laying low since April, Kompong Thom province’s notorious bandit gangs have struck again with a double kidnapping and the killing of a military officer in Sakream commune, Prasat Ba­lang district, officials said Mon­day.

On Sept 30, a group of bandits fatally shot RCAF officer Nou Noeut in a chase through a heavy jungle known as “the triangle zone,” which delineates the border of Kompong Thom, Preah Vihear and Siem Reap provinces.

Nou Noeut was pursuing the bandits following the kidnapping of local women Chea Sip, 48, and her sister, Chea Than, 37.

The bandits have since re­leased the younger of the two sisters, but are demanding a $15,000 ransom for the safe return of Chea Sip, said Sou Sam An, dep­uty chief of the Kompong Thom provincial police.

Family members of the kidnapped woman have asked the police to stay out of the affair, as they wish to negotiate with the bandits, Sou Sam An said.

“We still have no news from the negotiator, but the victims’ fam­ily pleaded with us not to take action in this case,” he said. “They want to deal with this case on their own first, and we will of course intervene if they request so.”

Kompong Thom villagers often are unwilling to cooperate with police, fearing reprisal killings and kidnappings by bandits, Kompong Thom Deputy Gov­er­nor Hem Savong said earlier this year. Since the mid-1990s, the Baray district of Kompong Thom suffered under a wave of banditry, and the area is believed to be attracting thieves from all over the country.

In 2002, at least 34 armed robberies, 16 killings, eight mass kidnappings and two rapes were recorded. Most of them occurred in Baray district.

The Ministry of Interior sent 10 teams of its elite Flying Tigers and 250 police officers to Kom­pong Thom last October in a massive operation to end the bandits’ crime spree.


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