Man tries to rip foetus from womb - police

Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Cambodian police said on Tuesday that they had charged a man with attempted murder after he sliced open his girlfriend's stomach with a knife in an attempt to rip out their unborn child to use it in a black magic ritual.

Yem Chouengly, police chief of Stoeung Sen district in the central province of Kampong Thom, said police believed Hoeung Sreang, 20, deliberately impregnated his girlfriend Yon Rong, 21, after a local witch doctor told him that a foetus could produce powerful magic to protect him in his chosen career as a petty criminal by rendering him invisible.

They said Sreang asked Rong, a karaoke singer, on three occasions if she would allow to let someone surgically remove the three-month old foetus, but the girl refused.

"So, on Monday afternoon, he tricked her to coming to a guest house room with him, and when they were alone he held her down and sliced her open with a knife to try to remove the foetus from her stomach himself," Chouengly said by phone.

He said the girl was rescued when people heard her screams, and before Sreang could extract the foetus.

Although Rong may not lose the baby, she is in serious condition in hospital with a deep slash wound to her abdomen.

"The boy who did this is an idiot. He believes in the ancient superstition that a mummified foetus would have made him invisible and let him commit whatever crimes he wanted without being caught," Chouengly said.

"He didn't care about the girl or the baby. He just wanted power," he added.

Superstitious beliefs are widespread in Cambodia, and some Cambodians are convinced the dried and preserved body of a miscarried or prematurely born child imparts strong magical powers and can even forewarn its bearer of capture by police or enemy soldiers.

Sreang faces 10 to 20 years in jail if convicted.