A wave of robberies hit Prey Veng province in the wake of the recent Khmer New Year holiday, likely perpetrated by cash-strapped young men who spent all their money on the festivities, police and rights workers said.
At least seven armed robberies have occurred across four districts since the holidays, and police have gunned down four of the perpetrators, while 11 other robbers are currently on the run, provincial police chief Tim Phorn said Monday.
“They still have guns to rob people. They have not handed over their weapons and they have concealed them for bad purposes,” Tim Phorn said of the perpetrators. The crime wave has been partially subdued after police were put on alert at every commune in the province, he added.
Deputy Provincial Governor Chea Him attributed the robberies to young men who gambled or drank away all their money over New Year.
“They tried to rob villagers when police were tired from standing guard during Khmer New Year. Now our forces have been deployed and are controlling the situation well,” he said.
Police killed four suspected robbers late last month when they allegedly opened fire on officers, he said. Police confiscated two AK47 assault rifles from the dead men, along with a poisoned sausage that they intended to use to kill guard dogs, Chea Him said.
On April 19, three men armed with an AK47 burst into a man’s home in Preah Sdech district’s Romchek commune and robbed him of $10,000, said Men Makara, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc. The following day, robbers made off with a motorbike and $500 in Mesang district.
“Villagers are concerned about their security because the robbers are armed and there are an increasing number of people in each group,” he said.