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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Arson link to logging clash ‘obvious’: official

Arson link to logging clash ‘obvious’: official

A FORESTRY Administration official in Mondulkiri province said Sunday that “several” suspects had been identified in connection with a suspected arson attack that destroyed one of the administration’s office buildings in Keo Seima district on January 9.

Chhuon Sereyvath, the administration’s deputy director, said officials believe the fire was linked to a January 7 incident in which forestry officials attempted to disrupt the route of two trucks loaded with illegal logs that were heading to the Vietnamese border. The loggers opened fire on the officials, according to police, and the office building was torched two days later.

Police at first said the fire appeared to be intentional, but refrained from making an explicit link between the two incidents. On Sunday, though, Chhuon Sereyvath said his office’s investigation had led him to conclude that the link was obvious.

“We have already identified the people who burned the office, and they were the ones who were transporting valuable wood illegally,” Chhuon Sereyvath said. “We are now finishing up our investigation so that we can send the file to the provincial court.”

However, he added that the Forestry Administration would consider dropping its complaint and pursuing an out-of-court settlement.

He noted that none of the suspects had been apprehended, and he declined to say exactly how many had been linked to the suspected arson attack.

Keo Samuth, the police chief in Sre Preah commune where the office building was located, said the Forestry Administration is investigating the case along with his own officers. He said he had not yet been given information on the identify of any suspects.



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