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B’bang dispute erupts in violence; 11 injured

B’bang dispute erupts in violence; 11 injured

Police question two in conflict over 25 hectares of land sought as a concession, officials report.

POLICE in Battambang province said they had questioned two men from Boeung 5 village on Tuesday about their alleged involvement in an attack on rival villagers in connection with an ongoing land dispute.

The land is located far from our sight, so it is easy for the villagers... to grab.

Eleven people were injured on Friday when villagers from Sthapor 2 and Boeung 5 communes engaged in a fight over 25 hectares of forest during which knives, machetes and swords were used, officials and rights group workers said.
“We could not identify the perpetrators of the fighting, which led to injuries on both sides, but we are investigating and collecting more evidence,” said Kam Reuy, the deputy police chief of Bavel district.

He declined to identify the two men who were questioned.

Kam Reuy said the investigation was prompted by a complaint from Sthapor 2 villager Thuy Vy, who said his mother and two siblings were attacked on Friday when they were making charcoal on the disputed land, according to Yin Meng Ly, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc.

Yim Meng Ly said the altercation began when 190 villagers from Boeung 5 went to survey the land and found the Sthapor 2 villagers there.
“At least six people from Boeung 5 village were also wounded,” Yim Meng Ly said. “It is a dispute of villagers attacking villagers.”

Origins of the dispute
Chhea Ny, a Boeung 5 village representative, said his village had requested that a 7,500-hectare plot of land, including the disputed 25 hectares, be given to it as part of a social land concession in 2008.

“I know it is state land, which is why we asked the government for it to be a social land concession,” he said.

Bavel district Governor Tim Bareth confirmed on Tuesday that the land was state property, though he noted that the government had yet to rule on the request for a social land concession.

“The land is located far from our sight,” he added, “so it is easy for the villagers to try to grab.”

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