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Official hurt in village clash

A military police official was injured and cars and construction equipment were burned on Tuesday during a clash between police and villagers hired by businessmen to guard land they previously owned in Battambang province that was classified as a social land concession, officials said yesterday.

Dy Sareth, deputy police chief of Bavel district, said  that 50 villagers from Prey Veng, Pailin and Battambang provinces hired by two businessmen attacked members of the provincial land management committee who were measuring land to build a road for veterans’ families in Ampil Pram Doeum commune’s Boeung Tram village.

He added that 30 military police who accompanied the land officials were not violent toward villagers, who confiscated three guns, burned seven cars and two excavators and injured one official.

“They were hired by Ly Sopheak and Ly Bunny because both of them have about 200 hectares of rice paddies on that land,” he said, adding that the two had paid villagers 25,000 riel (US$6) per day to guard the land.

Chheang Ny, a village representative, said that officials had come to measure land for 1,736 veterans’ and poor families.

District governor Sem Dareth said that earlier this year the government granted a concession totalling about 3,600 hectares to provide poor villagers and families of veterans with 40mx40m plots for houses and two hectares of farmland.

“We planned to measure the land for 250 veteran families first but they hired people … to use violence against us,” he said. “We will file a complaint to the provincial court.”

Provincial Adhoc coordinator Yin Mengly said the businessmen were afraid the authorities would sell the land.

Ly Sopheak and Ly Bunny could not be reached for comment.



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