One Dead, 3 Wounded in Country’s Latest Armed Robbery

A man was killed and three others wounded in an armed robbery in Kandal province on Monday night, while the national police commissioner on Tuesday called a meeting to discuss a countrywide surge in violent crime.

Deputy provincial police chief Roeun Nara said Monday’s fatal robbery occurred at about 7 p.m. when three men forced their way into the back of a shophouse in Kandal Stung district’s Trea commune, before escaping with more than $10,000 in cash and gold jewelry.

“When the family was in the house, they heard someone knocking on the back gate. So the son-in-law of the family went to have a look,” Mr. Nara said, naming the son-in-law—Thuok Thaora, 35— as the fatality.

“He saw the men had a rifle, so he yelled and called the family members to hold the gate to prevent the suspects from forcing their way inside, but the suspect with the weapon shot multiple times,” he said.

Thuok Thaora was shot in the stomach and died at the provincial referral hospital two hours later, Mr. Nara said, while two other family members were shot in the leg while resisting.

“When the suspects got into the compound, they yelled threats to the family: ‘Don’t yell, we just want the money’ and [told them] to lie on the ground, but they did not cooperate,” the police official said.

“I think if the family was willing to give them the money, there would have been no shooting, because they only wanted the money.”

The suspects’ total take was $2,600 in U.S. notes, 3 million riel (about $750), and gold jewelry weighing 5 damlung—roughly 187.5 grams worth about $6,675.

After the robbery, the father of the family, 50-year-old Sem Chamroeun, left to seek help from neighbors, Mr. Nara said. One of the suspects fired at Mr. Chamroeun, missing him but causing a 12-year-old neighbor to suffer shrapnel wounds.

“We arrived at the scene after about 15 minutes, but we could not find any suspects because they were all gone. About 50 police and military police searched around to catch them, but we found nothing,” he said.

Following a spate of brazen armed robberies last month, Interior Minister Sar Kheng ordered provincial police chiefs to step up efforts to investigate and apprehend the offenders or risk being stripped of their positions and ranks.

On Tuesday, National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun called a meeting to discuss the scourge of violent robberies, with National Police spokesman Saran Komsath later saying that the interior minister’s orders were reiterated.

“We reminded the lower levels to pay attention and work hard to improve the efficiency of their work toward reducing residents’ fear [and maintaining] order and security,” he said.

Yet the spokesman said he believed police were making progress in rounding up suspects in the cases that spurred Mr. Kheng’s anger.

“In Battambang, we closed the case. In Pursat, we are processing it. And in Kandal, we are also acting to process the investigation,” he said.

In the case of an armed robbery at a market in Kompong Speu province last month that resulted in the death of a local commune clerk, police said they had just this week apprehended the men responsible.

“After a long investigation, we arrested one suspect in Kompong Speu on Sunday who was involved in the armed robbery at Talat market,” Sam Sak, chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau, said on Tuesday.

“Today, we arrested the second suspect at the Thai border in Pailin province; he had fled there while hiding after committing the crime,” he said.

Mr. Sak identified the man arrested in Kompong Speu as Uok Koeun, 36, and the man apprehended in Pailin as Pat Samnang, 48. He said the duo was released from prison just last year after serving a 15-year sentence for aggravated theft.

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