A foreign tourist was robbed and assaulted while cycling along the Pakse-Phonthong bridge in Phonthong District, Champasack Province on Monday.
The victim has been identified as Ella, a 26-year-old Turkish woman, who is currently visiting Laos.
According to Lieutenant General Mr. Sinam Chitpanyal, Head of the Public Security at Phonthong district, the incident took place on Monday afternoon while Ella was cycling along the Pakse-Phonthong bridge after visiting Phusalao temple when she was attacked by a man.
Lieutenant General Sinam says the victim was hurt while attempting to fend off the thief who was trying to steal her wallet.
He confirmed to the Laotian Times over a phone call that the 26-year-old tourist was robbed of her wallet, which included USD 300 in cash, her ATM card, and her passport.
He adds, “Fortunately, the attacker didn’t have any weapons, and the tourist only suffered minor wounds on her left eyebrow due to the fight.”
Ella had been transported to a local hospital in the district, where her condition was stabilized, says Lieutenant General Sinam.
He disclosed that the law enforcement authorities are gathering evidence to further investigate a potential suspect who may have attacked her.
“We are doing our best to ensure that the rights of our visitors are protected by seeking justice against those who violate them,” he adds.
The incident also sparked significant backlash on social media, with many asking whether it is still safe for tourists to wander around Laos without worrying about being attacked, how this would affect Lao tourism if word got out, and whether the officers would even be able to find the offender.
“Very sad that a foreign tourist had to experience this. How would this affect international tourism in Laos, given that we now need more tourism revenue than ever?” a Facebook user commented on the situation.
“While many countries have a high rate of robberies, their authorities would quickly apprehend the perpetrators. In comparison to Laos, which has an almost equal number of cops and thieves, cases like these hardly get solved,” another Facebook user added.
Although the local police have committed to catching the criminal at the earliest, Lao citizens on social media have remained critical due to previous instances when such incidents were not brought to justice, jeopardising the safety of foreign visitors in the country.