Security guards allegedly working for a private company on Saturday opened fire on ethnic Phnong villagers in Mondulkiri province’s Pech Chreada district, injuring three people.
Speaking to the Post from the provincial hospital yesterday, 28-year-old Pik Ngeam said that he and four other ethnic Phnong villagers were taking a break from hunting animals in a community forest when three men, dressed in army fatigues and armed with AK-47 rifles, appeared.
“When they arrived they tried to chase us away by saying ‘get out, get out’ and afterwards they shot,” he said.
According to Ngeam, one of the three guards opened fire on a rock the group was sitting on, causing it to shatter; injuring three of the villagers.
“I got three wounds, and the X-ray showed that the rocks are inside my body,” he said.
“They are the LKL Company’s guards,” Ngeam claimed, referring to a company awarded an economic land concession in the area.
But, Ngeam said, at the time of the attack, the villagers were about 1,000 metres away from the company’s land.
“I don’t know why they shot like that. We never have problems with each other, and the place we were at is in the community forest, not the company’s land,” he said.
Slang Chou, Bousraa commune police chief, said that the perpetrators escaped before police arrived at the scene.
“The shooter is the one who guards the company which grows rubber trees. He escaped arrest, so we are looking for him,” he said.
Chou said the guard had fired at the rock to warn the villagers to return home and not to enter the company’s land to steal timber.
Contact details for LKL could not be found to request comment from the company.
Sok Rattha, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said he inspected the scene following a complaint from the villagers.
Ratha added that the victims will file a complaint with the provincial court today, accusing the guard of attempted murder and demanding $1,000 in compensation.
“The perpetrator must be prosecuted,” he said.