Shots were fired as Stung Treng economic police failed to apprehend suspected illegal timber traders following a car chase on Sunday afternoon.
Hy Meach Chorum, deputy chief of the Stung Treng provincial economic crimes bureau, said officers fired five warning shots at a truck laden with luxury timber and a Toyota Camry, both of which were later impounded following a sting operation in Stung Treng town.
“Our officers confiscated an empty car and a truck filled with timber at around 1:20 on [Sunday] afternoon. The Camry had tried to keep our officers from stopping the truck transporting timber, so they shot the car first and then they shot the truck with the timber,” Chorum said. “[The suspected timber smugglers] fled into the forest . . . after we shot and the two cars got flat tyres.”
He went on to say that three police cars had taken part in the operation. The car and truck were handed over to local Forestry Administration officials before economic crimes police had a chance to count or catalogue the seized wood, Chorum added.
Provincial Forestry Administration chief Chheang Tola could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The same day, a mobile customs unit in Tbong Khmum confiscated a car and van transporting luxury timber, according to local news reports, although Tbong Khmum officials could not be contacted to confirm the report.
In a separate case in Ratanakkiri province, deputy provincial prosecutor Mom Vanda said that the court was following up on allegations in local media that a local prosecutor and his wife were involved in the smuggling of timber to Vietnam.
Ratanakkiri Provincial Court Prosecutor Liv Sreang questioned all provincial deputy prosecutors. All denied involvement in timber smuggling, he said.
In January, the prime minister announced a new anti-logging commission to crack down on the illegal timber trade, and in April, the government announced that the crackdown had put a stop to timber smuggling across the border with Vietnam.
However, observers say the trade continues unabated, and earlier this month Post reporters witnessed a thriving illegal logging trade in Cambodia’s eastern provinces.