Robber Takes Hostage After Failed Hijacking

An armed robber fleeing a failed hijacking on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island took a 20-year-old woman hostage and forced her to act as his getaway driver at gunpoint as military police gave chase for nearly an hour on Monday afternoon, finally arresting him outside O’Russei market.

The afternoon drama unfolded at about 3 p.m. when two young women riding a Honda Scoopy motorbike near Koh Pich Theater were suddenly cut off by three motorbikes and ordered to hand over their vehicle by five or six men in their twenties, one of whom aimed a pistol at them, according to Soy Chandy, commander of the Prampi Makara district military police.

Mr. Chandy said the women complied and the robbers sped toward the bridge to the mainland near NagaWorld casino. But security guards stationed on the bridge raised a barricade, while other guards approached the gang from behind, leading all but one of the men to abandon their motorbikes and flee on foot, he said.

The last suspect, who was armed with the handgun, took a different tactic.

“When the suspect reached the other side of the bridge, he saw a girl riding a motorbike and pointed his gun at her, and as she neared the bridge, he took her hostage,” Mr. Chandy said, adding that military police pursued the pair for almost an hour, finally stopping them at 4:10 p.m.

“Chamkar Mon [district] military police told us…that the suspect was escaping into my area. We arrested him at the corner with the traffic lights near O’Russei market. Luckily the victim did not get injured,” he said.

“It was like a film,” he added. “When the suspect arrived at the scene, he jumped from the motorbike and ran 100 meters along Street 217.

“The suspect tried to shoot, but [his gun] did not fire because our military police wear amulets—that’s why the suspect’s pistol did not work.”

Phnom Penh military police commander Roth Sreang identified the suspect as 28-year-old Nhim Sopheap, who he said had been employed as a cook at the Hotel Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra and was now being held at municipal military police headquarters.

Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, said Mr. Sopheap would be sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday.

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