Police were searching on Wednesday for a man accused of throwing battery acid in the face of a 23-year-old woman as she tried to stop him from snatching her bag in Phnom Penh. It was the third acid attack reported this year.
Sorn Chanti was riding her bicycle home through Pur Senchey district’s Choam Chao commune at about 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday when the attacker came at her from an empty plot of land, said Hong Chhorn, a commune official.
“He rushed to snatch [her] bag, but he failed to take it. So he threw acid on her face,” he said.
Mr. Chhorn said the suspect, who has not yet been identified, then grabbed the victim’s bag and fled the scene—which was about 500 meters from Ms. Chanti’s house—running back onto the same piece of land from which he had come. Ms. Chanti, a garment factory worker, told police she did not recognize her attacker, he added.
Deputy district police chief Morm Vuthy said the bag contained a Samsung smartphone and $400.
Acting commune police chief Sao Sarith said the victim’s relative called an ambulance and she was rushed to Tuol Kok district’s Preah Kossomak Hospital.
As of last night, she was still hospitalized, but the extent of her injuries was not disclosed. The hospital could not be reached for comment.
Police have “opened an investigation and [are] searching” for the suspect, Mr. Sarith said.
Mr. Chhorn said investigators have so far presumed that the motive for the attack was theft, and not personal revenge or motivated by a grudge—common reasons for such attacks in the past.
In January, a 27-year-old woman sustained burns to her face when she was doused with battery acid, allegedly by her boyfriend’s jealous wife, in Kompong Speu province. In a separate case that same month, a 25-year-old woman was accused of pouring acid on her ex-boyfriend and his fiancee as they gave her a ride home in Phnom Penh.