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Land dispute Probe after ‘arson threat’ from official

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Villagers stand in front of the house where a two-star military general had threatened to set their houses ablaze. Photo Supplied

Land dispute Probe after ‘arson threat’ from official

Anlong Veng district authorities in Oddar Meanchey province are looking into a land dispute in Lomtong commune’s Lomtong Chas village after 12 families alleged that a two-star military general had threatened to set their houses ablaze if they refused to cede their land to him.

Commune chief Chuon Ras said on Monday that the 12 families accused Tes Sam Ath, a senior official at the Defence Ministry’s Communication Department of threatening arson after they rejected his claim that the land on which they had been living and cultivating crops for a decade belonged to the military.

“In fact, there has never been any military base in the area, but the 12 families have no land titles either because the land is located within the state forest while the other part is community forest land that the government have assigned the O’Sophy Kiri Prey Srong community to manage,” Ras said.

Sem Knoeut, the 12 families’ representative, also confirmed that the land, on which they had been residing since 2004, is located next to the state forest and the O’Sophy Kiri Prey Srong community forest.

“He threatened to burn down our houses and deploy armed forces to arrest and jail us if we don’t move out,” Ras said.

Sam Ath could not be reached for comment on Monday.

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