An angry mob of about 300 people killed a suspected thief fleeing a botched motorbike robbery in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district on Friday, police said Sunday.
Prey Sar commune deputy police chief Tum Polin said three men on a motorbike attempted to steal a woman’s motorbike at gunpoint at about 5:30 p.m. on Friday after tailing her onto a quiet dirt road.
“The suspects were chasing her and as she slowed down, they kicked her motorbike and one of them pointed a handgun at her to demand the motorbike,” he said.
Mr. Polin said the robbery victim, Ith Puthea, 24, dropped her motorbike after it was kicked and struggled to stave off the robbers.
“When she fought back, one suspect punched her on the right eye and then beat her with a handgun,” he said.
Mr. Polin said Ms. Puthea began screaming for help, which alerted nearby villagers. One of the suspects escaped on their motorbike, while another took Ms. Puthea’s vehicle and fled as well.
The third suspect, who had been wielding the gun, attempted to escape on foot by running into a nearby rice field, but an angry mob had already begun to form.
“When the suspect fled into the rice field about 500 meters from the road, hundreds of people surrounded him and attacked him,” Mr. Polin said.
Members of the mob beat the man with wooden clubs, and punched and kicked him, he added.
“About 20 police officers arrived at the scene and sent the suspect to the hospital,” he said. “When the suspect arrived at the hospital, the doctors told police that the suspect had died already.”
Mr. Polin said that the gun used in the robbery had not yet been recovered.
“We did not arrest any villagers because more than 300 people joined the mob killing,” he said.
District penal police chief Huor Minh Vang identified the man killed by the mob as Men Ratha, 27.
Mr. Minh Vang said police searched Mr. Ratha’s rental home in Choam Chao commune Sunday. “We found a holster, but we did not find the other suspects or any motorbikes,” he said.