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Revenge Cited in School Siege

Suspected leader of gang that held 30 children hostage, killing one, says he was angry with an ex-employer, police say.

June 18, 2005|From Associated Press

SIEM REAP, Cambodia — A man driven by a grudge against his former employer spearheaded an assault on an international school, taking dozens of children hostage and silencing a crying Canadian toddler by shooting him in the head, police said Friday.

The 23-year-old ringleader allegedly persuaded three friends to don masks and storm the school in the town of Siem Reap on Thursday.

They herded a teacher and about 30 children into a classroom, where they remained during a six-hour siege.

Police say the men, all in their early 20s, wanted to extort money from the foreigners and well-off Cambodians whose children attend the school near the famed Angkor Wat temple complex.

The children, aged 2 to 6, are from about 15 countries.

On Friday, a local restaurant was turned into a temporary psychological counseling center. European trauma experts and Cambodian health workers were on hand.

The alleged gang leader said he initially had planned the raid as revenge against a South Korean man whose children he chauffeured to the school, said Prak Chanthoeun, deputy commander of military police in Siem Reap province.

The suspect said his employer recently got angry and slapped him on the face, prompting the suspect to quit his job and return to his hometown in the central province of Kandal.

Police plan to charge the suspects with "illegal detention of persons and kidnapping for ransom," said Ou Em, head of criminal police division in Siem Reap. A fifth man was arrested on suspicion of involvement, although he was not at the scene Thursday.

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