US Embassy Warns of Sihanoukville Attacks

The U.S. Embassy on Tuesday issued a security message warning its citizens of an increase in violent attacks against Americans on Ochheuteal Beach in Sihanoukville and advising them to avoid certain establishments at night.

“Several U.S. citizens were attacked and injured, one suffering serious knife wounds, during separate recent incidents,” the message says.

“There are no ‘crime-free’ areas in Cambodia, and criminal activity increases at night. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid the beach bars on Ochheuteal Beach in the evening hours due to the potential for gang activity and an increased prevalence of drugs and unprovoked violence against foreigners.”

The beach in question, Ochheuteal, is the main tourist hub in Sihanoukville. It sits east of Serendipity Beach and is lined with dozens of restaurants, bars and clubs.

Citing the U.S. Privacy Act, U.S. Embassy spokesman John Simmons said he was unable to provide details about the attacks, including when they occurred.

“Today’s warden message was issued due to an increase in the number of incidents involving crimes against American citizens in the specified area of Sihanoukville. Due to considerations under the Privacy Act, the U.S. Embassy cannot release specific information about any particular incident,” he wrote in an email.

Sihanoukville authorities denied Tuesday that there had been any attacks against U.S. citizens.

“There are no cases related to violence or any attacks on U.S. citizens, but foreigners get drunk and provoke problems,” said Kol Phally, deputy police chief of Preah Sihanouk province.

“I have not yet seen the [embassy message],so I can’t comment.”

Provincial deputy governor Sok Phan said he was unaware of the U.S. Embassy’s message and that no incidents like those described by the embassy had been reported.

“I wasn’t aware of the U.S. Embassy’s security message to citizens, but recently, no U.S. citizens were attacked,” he said. “We have efforts to clean up the city, especially the beaches, and we also have strengthened security for public order.”

narim@cambodiadaily.com, wilwohl@cambodiadaily.com

© 2014, Khuon Narim. All rights reserved.