Police are investigating a spate of slingshot attacks apparently targeting Western men in the vicinity of Phnom Penh’s popular waterfront area.
At least six men in the past two weeks have been injured by slingshot-fired marbles or ball bearings, and victims say they have spoken to several others reporting similar incidents.
Local police have identified a youth gang as the suspects, but are awaiting orders from municipal police before making arrests, Daun Penh district Penal Police Chief Huy Song said Monday.
Police do not believe the attacks are personally or politically motivated, Huy Song said. But municipal police are deploying additional officers to the river front, said Ly Rasy, deputy municipal police chief for minor crimes. But the unexplained spree has left many unsettled.
“I’m afraid to go out and walk the streets at night,” said Charlie Spohn, 73, who was hit in the chest Feb 17 while walking to his home near Wat Ounalom.
Bruce Lasky, a visiting consultant from New York, was struck in the back of the head Feb 11 while talking to a friend near the river front. He said Sunday that his friend saw someone leaning out of a passing car holding a slingshot.
Canadian engineer Peter Ward was hit twice while walking near the river, once in the ear on Feb 5 and then again in the arm two or three days later, he said Monday. After the second attack, he found a glass marble about 1 cm in diameter on the ground.
Like most victims, Ward did not report the incident to police.
“I figured, what’s the point?” said Peter Funston of Australia, who was hit in the neck Feb 17 while riding a motorbike on Norodom Boulevard.
Without reports, gathering enough evidence to crack down on the attackers will be difficult, Huy Song said.