British tourists were among 90 passengers held at gun point by seven armed men on a riverboat yesterday as they travelled to Cambodia's famed Angkor temples.
The hijackers drew pistols and knives about an hour outside of Phnom Penh on the Tonle Sap river before herding the travellers and crew into a cabin.
Jamie Maxwell-Grant, a 27-year-old tourist from London, said passengers were ordered not to look at the attackers, as they were bound at the wrists and had their mouths taped shut or gagged with scarves. He said one of the hijackers held a gun to his head and told him: "If you look at me, I kill you."
Adam Hunter, his 29-year-old travelling companion from London, said the gunmen robbed passengers and ransacked luggage, stealing money, cameras, some clothing and travellers checks. "Once they'd ransacked the baggage, they then got the head covers off the back of the seat and put them on everyone's heads so we were actually hooded and they started shouting some more."
The gunmen fired one shot, but there were no serious injuries, the two said. "When they let the gun off, at that point I really did think we could die," Mr Maxwell-Grant said.
Mr Hunter was robbed of his camera, a portable compact disc player and $150. The other 43 foreigners were from the US, Australia, France, Japan, Italy and Germany.
After collecting their loot and disabling the boat's two-way radio, the hijackers ordered the captain to pull near a riverbank before jumping overboard. "One of them shouted, 'Shoot the boat to sink it!'," a deckhand, Hong Tha, said. "If they had, no one would have survived because they tied up our legs and hands."
Boat operators said that it was the first hijacking since the Khmer Rouge were kicked out of the region in the mid-1990s.
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