One Arrested After Chase, Shootout With Police

A shootout between police in Phnom Penh and a gang of armed robbers on motorbikes in the early hours of Saturday culminated in the arrest of one man but resulted in no injures, police said Sunday.

The exchange of gunfire took place at about 3 a.m. as police pursued a half-dozen armed robbers in a high-speed chase through the streets of Chamkar Mon district’s Tumnop Toek commune, all of them on motorbikes, according to deputy district police chief Heang Tharen.

Mr. Tharen said commune police began chasing the robbers after they stole a motorbike from a group of young men who had been riding together on Street 271 near the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital. He said the gang forced their prey onto a small lane off Street 271 and made off with one of their vehicles.

“The gunman hit the victim with his pistol grip, grabbed the victim’s motorbike and fired once into the air, creating chaos for commune police,” he said.

Officers deployed to the scene caught up with the suspects but were met with gunfire, Mr. Tharen said, adding that police also discharged their weapons, but only sparingly so as not to harm bystanders. He said police ultimately cornered just one suspect, 26-year-old Phong Sopheak.

“He is at our Chamkar Mon district police station, but he has not yet confessed to the act committed by his group of gunmen,” he said, adding that the commune police who participated in the dangerous chase were rewarded with a total of $125 from municipal police chief Chuon Sovann.

Lieutenant General Sovann’s deputy Chuon Narin said Sunday that police had identified the suspects who managed to flee and would catch them soon.

“The five or six gunmen in the group are still at large, but they cannot escape from our police net,” he said.

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