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Smugglers burst through blockade

Siem Reap province
OFFICIALS in Siem Reap province fired on the vehicles of suspected wood smugglers who drove through a blockade set up along National Road 67 in Banteay Srei district on Sunday night.

The anti-smuggling operation was being carried out in concert with members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit, the unit’s commander said.

Hing Bunheang, who is also deputy commander in chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, said he had ordered his officials to stop a member of the bodyguard unit suspected of taking advantage of his position to transport stolen luxury wood.

“I ordered to shoot last night, but they fled into the forest after we blew out their tyres,” he said yesterday.

Tea Kimsoth, the provincial director of the Forestry Administration, said the officials shot out the tyres of six of eight cars after they sped through the blockade, and that no one was injured.

After the cars stopped, most of the suspected smugglers fled the scene on foot, he said.

Hing Bunheang said two people in the cars were arrested, but declined to provide further details.

Tea Kimsoth said officials confiscated the cars and 4 cubic metres of valuable wood. “I will send the case to court tomorrow, along with the evidence,” he said.

On Sunday, police in Siem Reap province’s Varin district said they were on the hunt for a gunman who shot at a Forestry Administration official during a separate operation on Friday.

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