26/03/2010 4:24 AM
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - An angry village mob in Cambodia armed with bamboo sticks and stones beat to death two suspected robbers, dragging them away from police who had arrested them for stealing a motorcycle, police said Friday.
The throng of about 400 villagers was so frenzied that police got scared, said Maj. Bonn Sam Ath, a police chief in the district of Dangkor, on the western outskirts of the capital.
"The villagers threatened to attack us if we refused to hand over the suspects to them," Bonn Sam Ath said. "We had no choice. They would have beaten us too if we protected the suspects."
The men were among three people arrested Thursday for allegedly stealing a motorcycle from two sisters, who were riding it when attackers hit them over the head with pistols. The women were hospitalized in critical condition.
Word spread through the village that police had detained suspects, prompting a crowd led by relatives of the victims to await their arrival near the police station, said Bonn Sam Ath, adding that police initially tried to protect the suspects.
The third suspected robber survived by pretending he was dead, he said. Police do not plan to press charges because they do not know which members of the mob were responsible for the murders, he added.
Mob killings are not uncommon in rural Cambodia, where police are often seen as corrupt and villagers take justice into their own hands.