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Killing stuns Kratie villagers

VILLAGERS in Kratie province said they fear for their safety after the slaying of an environmental activist in Sambo district on Thursday.
Kong Kron, 39, a representative of O Kreang commune’s Os Kak village, said Sunday that he and other villagers were frightened by the unexpected killing of Russ Hoeung, a forest community representative in O Kreang commune who was murdered with an ax while he slept at their cottage about 5 kilometres from the village.

San Sameir, the chief of O Kreang commune, said that according to information from villagers, the activist may have fallen victim to illegal loggers in the area. In August, Russ Hoeung led authorities to crack down on logging operations in the area, leading to the confiscation of two
plywood saws and 500 felled logs.

“We will not go to look after our paddy rice in the fields until the police arrest the perpetrators and send them to the court,” Kong Kron said.

Yous Pheary, executive director of Community Economic Development, said local rights workers would be hesitant to join the fight against illegal logging as long as the killers are on the loose. “The death of Russ Hoeung will make the villagers scared to combat illegal logging if the police do not arrest any suspects,” said.

Sambo district police Chief Bun Chhoeun said police had questioned many villagers about the slaying and promised to arrest the perpetrator soon.

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