Trio Holds Up Gas Station, Shoots Owner, Neighbor

Police in Oddar Meanchey province are searching for three armed robbers who made off with about $30,000 in cash on Sunday after holding up a gas station and shooting the owner and her neighbor, a local official said Monday.

The suspects showed up at the Tela station in Trapaing Prasat district at about 5:40 p.m. on Sunday and filled up their Honda Dream motorbike with gas before forcing the owner, 34-year-old Soeurn Srey, into her adjacent house at gunpoint, according to district police officer Lib Vun.

The men then leveled an AK-47 assault rifle and a handgun at Ms. Srey and demanded all of the cash on the premises, Mr. Vun said.

When Ms. Srey refused to comply, they threatened to kill her before discharging both weapons into the floor of the foyer, he said. One bullet ricocheted and struck her in the left foot, while her neighbor, 52-year-old Keo Reth, who was standing outside, was shot in the buttocks. After the guns were fired, the gas station owner hurried to gather the money.

“Ms. Srey collected the money from a desk drawer and a safe to give to the robbers,” Mr. Vun said, adding that the haul consisted of about $30,000 in U.S. dollar and riel notes that Ms. Srey had earned from selling gas and operating a Wing mobile-payment kiosk.

Upon receiving the money, he said, the suspects got back on their motorbike and fled down a narrow dirt path through a nearby cassava plantation as locals summoned police and gave chase, keeping their distance for fear of getting shot.

But by the time officers arrived in the area, the men had ditched their motorbike, which did not have a license plate, and fled on foot, disappearing into the cassava shrubs, said Mr. Vun, who was among those at the scene.

“The robbers left their motorbike on the cassava farm after the citizens and police began to chase them,” he said, adding that district police were continuing to scour the plantation and had asked authorities in neighboring districts to watch for the suspects.

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