Battambang provincial police have commented on false reports of abductions and attempted abductions of children in their jurisdiction, noting that the reports were untrue. They asked social media users to stop sharing the information, as they were causing distress to parents.

The statement was released on May 20, following widely shared images of the purported abduction of children in several villages and communes in the province.

The release, from the provincial police’s Press Quick Reaction Unit team, warned that in the past few false days information had appeared on social media that appeared on to relate to several kidnappings and have caused widespread concern among parents and guardians.

The unit cautioned people to be aware that some social media users appeared to be circulating the reports with the intention of causing unrest.

“On May 9, we commented on a post which claimed to show a woman attempting to lure a child away in Battambang town’s Tuol Ta Ek district. In fact, no such thing occurred. On May 20, we saw the same images being shared. This fake news is polluting the social media environment,” said the unit.

They also discussed a May 11 case where a Cambodian woman had stolen a pair of platinum bracelets from three children in Moung Russey district. The children had all returned home, and it appeared that teh woman’s only intention was to steal the jewellery.

It also described a May 20 incident in Samlot district, where a 28-year-old man who was suspected of being under the influence of drugs had committed violence on a boy in the village. It noted that the district police had taken the man into custody and would likely charge him.

“Neither of these cases supports the idea that there are any cases of child abduction in the province, as depicted in the shared social media posts,” it added.

The quick reaction unit requested the account owner to stop posting false information and requested all social media users to stop sharing information that may cause social insecurity.

“We urge people to stop spreading ‘fake news’ and to report any real incidents to their local police as son as possible,” it said.

At the same time, a parent with the social media account Ly Paoher, who posted that he had lost his son at Sar Kheng garden in Battambang town on May 19, released a video explaining that his son had not been kidnapped, but had gone away with his mother.

“I have found my son, who is with his mother. She took him without telling me. I want to offer my thanks to the Battambang police chief and his officers for helping me search for him. I am also grateful to everyone who shared my original post and helped to locate my son,” he said.