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Bulldozer, driver held in Preah Vihear

Bulldozer, driver held in Preah Vihear

About 110 villagers involved in a long-running land dispute in Preah Vihear’s Cheb district on Monday stopped a Chinese company’s bulldozer for five hours, as its operator tried to clear some of their community forest.

Villagers allege that the company, Rui Feng International, was clearing part of a 1,000-hectare community forest, though company representative Ing Thing Kong said yesterday that Rui Feng is only clearing land legally granted to it by the government.

After stopping the bulldozer, the community questioned its driver, who said he was only following instructions. The locals released the driver and the bulldozer after he agreed to stop clearing there.

Rui Feng was granted an 8,841-hectare concession in 2011, but villagers accuse it of pushing outside the boundaries of its land and encroaching on their farms.

Because of past protests, the company employed local and military police to guard its property, which Lut Sang, of local NGO Ponlok Khmer, characterised as “a threat to the community”.

Earlier this month, locals blocked a road used by the company, prompting a provincial government land investigation.

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