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Police raid lumber mill being operated illegally in wildlife sanctuary

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Police forces found 100 pieces of wood and two machines in Oral district in Kampong Speu province. Supplied

Police raid lumber mill being operated illegally in wildlife sanctuary

Police forces on Sunday raided a lumber mill that was being operated illegally within Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary in Kampong Speu province.

At least 100 timber logs, three wood processing machines – including one shredder – and several lumber planks had been found and confiscated, National Military Police spokesperson Eng Hy said on Monday.

“The evidence was confiscated by the National and Oral district Military Police forces. They have been handed over to the sanctuary’s environmental rangers for safe keeping and for further legal procedures,” he said.

The mill is located in Ta Chhun village in Oral district’s Tasal commune.

Nobody was found during the raid, Hy noted. “The operators may have escaped before the authorities came,” he said and added that the forces were still pursuing “the perpetrators”.

Kampong Speu provincial environment department director Em Sokhun told The Post on Monday that a team of experts had yet to inspect and measure the evidence as the authorities were still transporting the logs, machines and planks from the mill to the rangers’ office.

“We estimate that each of the logs is at least 30 cubic metres and the planks are nearly three cubic metres,” he said.

Separately, a venerable monk – Bor Bet – wrote on Facebook, claiming that during patrols on Thursday, members of the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) based in Kratie province had found and interrogated the operators of tractors used to traffic timber through the sanctuary.

But the director of Kratie provincial environment department, Duong Chhay Savuth, denied the incident had occurred in his jurisdiction without dismissing it had happened at all.

However, Savuth did not specify which of the four provinces – where Prey Lang is situated – the incident took place in.

He said: “I asked my team in the sanctuary but they said the incident did not occur in Kratie [province].”

Savuth said he and his team launched a probe “to ensure the shared Facebook post wasn’t old”.

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