Police Hunt Student Who Scalped Cafe Owner

Police in Phnom Penh have identified the man who scalped a Pur Senchey district cafe owner on Wednesday as an 18-year-old high school student and are continuing to search for him and his posse of sword-wielding desperados, an official said On Thursday.

At about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, approximately 10 young men armed with samurai-style swords charged into the Honey Milk coffee shop in Choam Chao commune and headed toward a group of four men sitting at a table inside, according to police.

As the would-be victims ran from the premises, the owner of the cafe, 24-year-old Uo Sokheng, confronted one of the attackers—a move that proved costly, with another gang member responding by severing a flap of flesh from the proprietor’s scalp before fleeing with his associates, police said.

Officers surrounded the house of one of the suspects late Wednesday night, but found no one inside. On Thursday, however, investigators identified the leader of the gang as Preap Laiheng, a student at the local Chumpovoan High School, according to Chea Sovann, chief of the district police’s penal section.

“He is the mastermind…and also the man who used a sword to chop off a piece of the coffee shop owner’s scalp,” Mr. Sovann said.

“He has not come home since attacking those people at the coffee shop,” he added. “We are waiting outside his house.”

The section chief said police fingered Mr. Laiheng based on interviews with witnesses, including the four men who ran from the cafe, and would search for him at his high school today or early next week. “If he comes back to study, we will arrest him there,” he said.

Police have made no arrests in the case, according to Mr. Sovann, nor identified any of Mr. Laiheng’s accomplices. Despite collapsing into a pool of his own blood on Wednesday, Mr. Sokheng will make a full recovery following surgery at a private clinic, he said.

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