A young welder was shot in the back and robbed of his Honda Dream during a roadside holdup on the outskirts of Phnom Penh early on Monday morning, according to police, the latest in a string of armed motorbike thefts that have left at least seven people injured and a 13-year-old boy dead.
Ry Makara, 28, who works at a welding shop in Kompong Speu province, had spent the week in Phnom Penh for the Water Festival holiday and was driving home with his girlfriend through the city’s Sen Sok district when the attack occurred, said district police chief Mok Hong.
Mr. Hong said the couple was driving along the Kop Srov causeway on Mr. Makara’s 2013 Honda Dream at about 3 a.m. when they came upon a motorbike blocking the road and a group of three or four men standing nearby.
“The suspects shouted at the couple to get off the motorbike and give them the keys, but the victims refused and then one of the suspects shot at them,” Mr. Hong said, adding that the robbers fired at the couple three times.
Mr. Hong said the bandits then took Mr. Makara’s keys and sped off with his motorbike. With no police nearby, he said, the welder called ABC Radio about 15 minutes later and asked the host on duty to contact local authorities.
The police chief said investigators later found bullet casings at the scene and identified the gun used as a K-59 pistol, but otherwise had no leads in the case. He said Mr. Makara was in stable condition.
The robbery follows three similar incidents in the space of two weeks.
On November 15, two men shot and killed a 13-year-old boy with an AK-47 assault rifle in an attempt to steal his brother’s Honda Dream in Kampot province, also waiting on a road in the predawn dark for a victim to drive by.
A week later, four men shot three people in the legs before making off with a KTM Duke motorcycle in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district just before 2 a.m. (The motorbike was recovered on Monday when police arrested one of the four, according to Song Ly, chief of the city’s minor crimes bureau.)
And in the early hours of Thursday, four other suspects opened fire on a group of 18 men traveling together on motorbikes in the same district, shooting three through the knees and absconding with two late-model Hondas. Police tracked one of the four to a market near the Mondial Center, where they arrested him that evening as he attempted to sell one of the vehicles.
On Monday, Tey Visal, deputy chief of the municipal police’s penal bureau, said investigators had made no new arrests, but that the detained man had been provisionally charged with aggravated theft.
Eng Sorphea, chief of the serious crimes bureau, said he could not explain the spate of violent robberies, but placed some blame with the victims.
“The victims have been trying to fight back against the suspects,” he said. “The suspects never want to shoot, which would alert the police.”
(Additional reporting by Khy Sovuthy and Saing Soenthrith)