Two Policemen Wounded in Shootout With Kidnappers

Two Kompong Thom provincial police officers were wounded in a shootout with a kidnapping ring in the jungle surrounding Baray district, officials said Tuesday.

Svay Saveth, 37, suffered a bullet wound to his right thigh. Another bullet struck Men Chea, 38, in the bridge of the nose and came out his right ear, Kompong Thom Deputy Judicial Police Chief Chou Sam An said. Both will recover from their wounds. A kidnapper was also wounded in the shootout but remained at large Tuesday, Chou Sam An said.

The shooting occurred Sunday near Seirey Reach village as police fanned out into the jungles surrounding peanut farms in the district, Chou Sam An said. Earlier in the day, kidnappers, armed with AK-47s, had abducted nine peanut farmers as they slept.

The kidnappers released one of the victims, a woman, to send to families and demand 1 million riel (about $256) in ransom for each of the abducted farmers, Chou Sam An said. Instead, the woman went to the authorities.

The two officers were prowling the jun­­gles when they encountered the kid­nappers and their victims, Chou Sam An said. During the shootout, five of the abduc­tees escaped. The kidnappers later released four others, all women, without ransom, Chou Sam An said.

Authorities have identified the ringleader as Ouk Sam Earn, 36, of Baray district, and issued arrest warrants for him. They were pre­paring warrant requests for two other men. All three are be­lieved to live in nearby Soun Soum village and were also behind three other recent kidnappings in the district, Chou Sam An said.

“They live in a nearby village and they wait for good chances to kidnap other villagers,” the dep­uty chief said.

The peanut plantation the kidnappers struck Sunday is shared by 12 families, all of whom stay near their fields all day to guard their crops, Chou Sam An said.


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