Men With Sticks Rob 2 Spanish Tourists on Sihanoukville Beach

Police in Preah Sihanouk pro­vince arrested a suspect in the violent, daylight robbery of a young Spanish couple as they strolled along a beach on Monday afternoon, police said yesterday.

Chiv Pheap, 26, was arrested minutes after he and two other men armed with wooden sticks attacked the couple—David Suent, 29, and his 25-year-old girlfriend, who police could only identify as Gutterez—robbing them of an MP3 player, a digital camera and three memory cards, Preah Sihanouk city deputy penal police chief Kheng Sophal said.

“The two other offenders are still at large, but we hope to arrest the men soon,” Mr Sophal said, adding that the couple had arrived in Cambodia four days before the attack.

“The two Spanish citizens are staying at a hotel in Sihanoukville, waiting for police to arrest the offenders and return their belongings,” Mr Sophal said.

Monday’s robbery came three days after the shooting of an Irish national and a tourism police officer at a popular guesthouse on O’Chheuteal beach.

Gerome McCormick, 30, was shot in the right shoulder and Mey Sothearak, 25, was shot in the hip during a gun attack on Chiva’s Shack guesthouse by an unidentified gunman armed with a handgun.

According to Preah Sihanouk penal police chief Nup Sam Oeun, police have no suspects in the shooting. Mr Sothearak is being treated at Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital. The whereabouts of Mr McCormick, who disappeared after the shooting, are still unknown, Mr Sam Oeun said.

Guesthouse owner Chiva Ouk said yesterday that police have told him that they still have no leads in the case but have narrowed down the possible motives: Either the attackers had a personal grudge with the Mr Sothearak, or a rival establishment wanted to drive the guesthouse out of business.

“That’s what they see as the two possible causes,” he said.

In the meantime, Mr Ouk’s business remains closed and he is preparing an official request to the governor for permission to reopen.

         (Additional reporting by Khuon Narim and Zsombor Peter)


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