Nearly 100 villagers chased down and killed a young farmer who attempted to rape a woman in Prey Veng province’s Mesang district on Tuesday evening, officials said.
“We heard that it was like a storm when the villagers were chasing the suspect,” district police chief Nov Hach said.
The would-be rapist was identified as Ou Tith, 22, who spent the afternoon of his death drinking with friends in Prey Romdeng commune, Mr. Hach said.
Walking home drunk at about 6 p.m., he passed the home of a 32-year-old woman whom he knew lived alone with her two children, as her husband worked in Thailand, the police chief said, citing interviews with witnesses.
He entered her house and tried to rape her, but she resisted and called out for her brother-in-law, who was outside on his motorbike.
“Her brother-in-law came and tried to help, but the suspect took a plank of wood and hit him on the head,” Mr. Hach said.
Ou Tith then fled into the rice fields behind the house, but the woman began screaming and her neighbors gave chase.
By the time the villagers caught up to him in a field a kilometer away, they had swelled into a mob, Mr. Hach said.
“He was waylaid by nearly a hundred villagers, beaten and hacked once in the head…with an ax,” he said.
Despite the size of the mob and length of the chase, district police did not find out about the murder until Wednesday morning, Mr. Hach said.
No arrests have been made, although investigators have identified several people who participated in the murder, he added.
Mob killings occur regularly in Cambodia, due in part to the public’s lack of confidence in the country’s notoriously corrupt courts.
Just last month, a man was beaten to death by about 20 people in Prey Veng’s Peamro district after he shoved the son of a local village chief into a drainage ditch during an argument. Six men were charged in that case.