Farmers who on Sunday said they had been shot at by Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) soldiers for trying to cultivate 390 hectares of disputed land in Battambang province’s Samlot district were granted permission yesterday to plant on some parts of the land, villagers and a military official said.
Seak Nal, a village representative, said district officials had granted 53 of the 78 families involved in the dispute permission to plant crops on 5-hectare plots of the land in Kampong Lpov commune. Tuy Bun Ly, deputy commander of RCAF’s Military Region 5, which is involved in three land disputes in the area, denied that his soldiers had shot at the farmers, but confirmed that force had been used in the effort to stop them from cultivating the land.
He added that the soldiers were required to do everything in their power to recover the land, which officials say is protected, and that they were not trying to claim it for themselves.
“Now we allow them to plant on some part of land that they have cleared already to prevent them cutting down more trees for making their farms,” he said. District Governor Hen Sophan declined to comment.