Three Kampong Thom forestry officials filed a complaint with the Kampong Thom Provincial Court against 50 suspects they claim attacked them in a land dispute.
The incident occurred on July 16 in Santuk district’s Boeung Lvea commune’s O’Korkir village in Kampong Thom province.
So Rath, chief of the Forestry Administration’s Taing Krasaing triage, and one of the three officers injured in the melee, said on Monday that he and the other two officers filed a complaint against 50 people from an estimated 100 in total.
The suspects threw sticks, knives and axes at 30 officers while they were planting more than 2,000 trees. “We want legal action against the suspects because they violently attacked us. I was stabbed with an axe. The other officers were hit in the arms, legs and body,” Rath said.
The deputy chief of North Tonle Sap Lake Inspectorate of Kampong Thom Province, Tep Nhata, said on Monday that he knew about the case, but he did not know the number of people listed in the complaint.
“Based on our observations, they are not poor citizens who need land, but they are trying to protect the land for big merchants.
“We are investigating this issue. Merchants should not use citizens to encroach on land for them. If they truly do not have land, we will give them land. However, they take the land to sell to others,” he said.
Officer Ang Buntha sustained an injury to his right leg when he was hit with a stick. Another officer, So Rat, suffered a back injury when he was hit with an axe.
Boeung Lvea commune chief Chhit Khoeun said people have lived on the land since 2016, but he does not know if it belongs to them. There is no registration or legal title.
“They do not have a proper legal title, but they settled on the land a long time ago. It is being investigated,” he said.