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Old June 16th, 2005, 08:57 AM  
Whisper
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Name: Kodie
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Default 3yr Old Canadian Child Killed In Cambodia Hostage Taking

Phnom Penh — A three-year-old Canadian boy was killed Thursday when four masked gunmen seized dozens of children at an international school in Cambodia.

The Canadian child was killed during the standoff before police raided the building and freed the remaining hostages, the government and police said. The attackers were arrested.

Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew told CBC Newsworld that Australian officials now at the scene are assisting Canada in dealing with the situation.

"We have Australian colleagues who are already there and working on our behalf," Mr. Pettigrew said.

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"Our own consulate people are going, the Canadian ones, and the Australian are already quite involved on the location."

The men stormed Siem Reap International School earlier Thursday, seizing dozens of young children from several countries — including Australia, Japan and Italy — and demanding money, weapons and a vehicle before police ended the standoff, with witnesses reporting several shots fired.

The gunmen killed the child when authorities declined to meet all of their demands, and police then raided the building, Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said, quoting the deputy national police chief, Neth Savoeun.

"They also threatened to kill the children one by one. Then our forces decided to storm the school," Khieu Kanharith said.

The victim was a 3-year-old Canadian, Khieu Kanharith said.

The Canadian Embassy could not immediately confirm the identity of the victim but said an official was en route to the scene.

"Four hostage-takers have been arrested. There are only four of them," Deputy Military Police Commander Prak Chanthoeum said after the hostage crisis was over.

Police earlier had said there were six attackers.

The crisis unfolded at Cambodia's tourism hub of Siem Reap, near its famed Angkor temples and home to many expatriates, and quickly drew concern from governments around the region amid reports of up to 15 nationalities among the hostages.

The gunmen's motives were not immediately clear.

They demanded $1,000 (U.S.), six AK-47 assault rifles, six shotguns, B-40 grenade launchers, hand grenades and a car, police said.

Mr. Kanharith said he was puzzled by the gunmen's demands and speculated whether the hostage takers were "rogue elements" hired to hurt tourism in Siem Reap.

"We wonder if they are elements of the CFF [Cambodian Freedom Fighters] or are hired by some company or country to destroy tourism in Cambodia. We don't know since they are covering their faces with masks," he said, adding: "Where do they want to run to with AK-47s and B-40 rockets?"

The CFF is an anti-government group that launched a failed armed attack in Cambodia in November, 2000. Its leader, Cambodian-born U.S. citizen Chhun Yasith, was arrested early this month in California. He was charged with engaging in a military expedition against a nation with whom the United States is at peace and other charges.



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