PHNOM PENH, March 26, 2010 (AFP) - A mob of about 400 Cambodians armed with stones, iron bars and wooden sticks, attacked three alleged bandits being held by police, killing two of them, police said Friday.
The incident took place on Thursday night after the three men allegedly used a gun to rob two sisters of their motorcycle on the outskirts of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, said Born Sam Art, police chief of Dangkao district.
He said the women called the police, who engaged in a brief gunfight with the alleged robbers before arresting them.
But about 400 villagers from three nearby communes then "grabbed the robbers from police and attacked them with stones, iron bars, and wooden sticks," Born Sam Art told AFP.
He said two of the bandits were killed on the spot while a third remained critically injured. Police fired warning shots to disperse the vigilante group.
In a bizarre twist, the injured criminal was initially thought to be dead and taken away with the two other bodies, but awoke as Buddhist laymen were preparing to cremate them, Born Sam Art said.
Angry mobs often attempt to take justice into their own hands in Cambodia, where the judicial system is widely believed to be weak and corrupt.