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Bridge torn down to thwart cops

Bridge torn down to thwart cops

Some 100 villagers locked in a land dispute in Preah Vihear province’s Sangkum Thmei district briefly dismantled a wooden bridge to prevent authorities from confiscating machinery residents had seized from the company they accuse of taking their land, local and NGO officials said yesterday.

Residents in Sdao commune’s Tabors village had seized an excavator, two tractors and two chainsaws from AM Phal Focus Cambodia on Sunday, said Poek Sophon, chief of advocacy for local NGO Ponlok Khmer.

“The items were put in a local pagoda and authorities went down there to solve the problem, but villagers dismantled the wooden bridge,” Sophon said.

Sangkum Thmey District Governor Ros Heng said that locals thought the group of provincial authorities had come to confiscate the machinery.

“The villagers did not understand,” he said. “We did not go there to take the items, but to find a solution.”

After a brief negotiation in which authorities promised to measure the disputed land, villagers “re-linked the bridge and the authorities left” without the equipment, Heng said.

AM Phal Focus Cambodia was granted 8,000 hectares for planting rubber in 2012.


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