BANGKOK • Five Cambodian fishermen have been arrested for a brutal attack on a group of French tourists in which two women were raped at knife-point on an isolated Thai beach, police said yesterday.
It is the latest high-profile assault on foreign visitors in Thailand, a country that is hugely reliant on its lucrative tourist trade.
Investigators said four French holidaymakers were attacked late on Saturday on Koh Kut (also known as Koh Kood), an underdeveloped island close to Cambodia's western border with Thailand.
Police said the attackers allegedly swam from their fishing boat to assault the group.
Two injured male victims escaped to raise the alarm. When locals and police reached the scene, the five suspects ran off but were swiftly apprehended, Police Major-General Nopparat Rinthaphol told Agence France-Presse.
"They (the suspects) have all confessed and police have already brought them to do a re-enactment," he added, referring to a common police technique where the accused replay their crimes for investigators, usually in front of the media.
Thailand's Channel 7 television broadcast images of angry locals trying to attack the men during the re-enactment.
The alleged assailants have all been charged with rape and violent assault, while the victims have been taken to hospital on the mainland. The French Embassy said it had sent officials to be with them.
Thailand remains an enormously popular tourist destination, with more than 28 million people visiting last year, a record high.
In September, two Myanmar migrant workers were sentenced to death for the 2013 murder of two British backpackers, one of whom was raped, on the diving island of Koh Tao after a controversial investigation and trial.
The Thai authorities insist the two men were guilty. But the defence team believes the pair were made scapegoats by a local police force desperate to produce results.