Police and military police officials across the country on Wednesday said they had tightened security at shops and markets, a day after Interior Minister Sar Kheng threatened to demote provincial police chiefs who failed to make arrests following a wave of violent armed robberies.
Mr. Kheng’s threat—made in a speech at the Interior Ministry in Phnom Penh on Tuesday—came three days after gunmen in Kandal, Battambang and Pursat provinces staged three separate robberies that netted about $330,000 worth of stolen gold and cash and resulted in one death.
Battambang provincial police chief Sar Thet, who along with his counterparts in Pursat and Kandal was the target of Mr. Kheng’s warning, said on Wednesday that he had increased security at businesses in his jurisdiction.
“We have already deployed our officers at gold shops, markets and all big stores across the province,” Mr. Thet said.
On Saturday, a group of six men in Battambang City armed with AK-47 assault rifles and pistols made away with $300,000 worth of gold and cash after holding up the owners of a money exchange and gold shop. Two suspects were arrested on Sunday; four others remain at large.
Asked about the status of the case on Wednesday, Mr. Thet said only that police “were still investigating to find the suspects.”
While Pursat provincial police chief Sarun Chanthy could not be reached on Wednesday, his deputy, Keo Sokunthea, said officials had taken similar measures.
“We have deployed our officials to Wing money transfer shops, jewelry stores, markets and towns to ensure security,” Mr. Sokunthea said, adding that police were closing in on the suspects in a robbery on Saturday that resulted in the death of a 31-year-old woman who operated a Wing mobile payment kiosk.
“Now we have uncovered the identities of the suspects, so we hope that we will arrest them tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” he said.
Kandal provincial police chief Eav Chamroeun said his officers had also been deployed at businesses across the province and instructed to avoid “carelessness.”