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Prey Lang forest activist's attacker ID’d

Prey Lang Community Network patroller Phon Sopheak lies on the ground after suffering injuries in a nighttime attack on Sunday. Photo supplied
Prey Lang Community Network patroller Phon Sopheak lies on the ground after suffering injuries in a nighttime attack on Sunday. Photo supplied

Prey Lang forest activist's attacker ID’d

The Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) believe they know who is responsible for a suspected axe attack on a member and have called on the government to take action.

PLCN activist Phon Sopheak suffered leg wounds during the attack in the early hours of Sunday morning as the activists were wrapping up a five-day patrol combating illegal logging in Kratie province.

Several groups of illegal loggers had been caught during the patrol and forced to sign contracts promising not to repeat the offence.

Activist Phay Bunleang said the PLCN believed the final group of loggers caught on Saturday were behind the attack and had passed photos taken during the contract signing to the authorities.

“We are preparing lawsuits as well as passing the photos to the district authorities to look for the suspects,” Bunleang said. “We are also calling for the government to take more action to combat illegal logging in Prey Lang.”

According to a statement issued yesterday, the PLCN has confiscated a total of 85 chainsaws recently across Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Stung Treng and Kratie provinces.

“Over the past two months, forestry crimes have reached serious levels. We, the PLCN, are deeply concerned about this situation and death threats issued by illegal loggers,” the statement reads.

Sopheak yesterday said that while it may take her a long time to recover, she would not be bullied into abandoning the patrols. “We’re worried about our safety, but I will never quit it,” said Sopheak.

Sambor District Governor Soun Sarith said yesterday that he was aware of Sunday’s attack and had instructed police to investigate and called on activists to work alongside authorities to ensure their safety.

“We never turn a blind eye to logging crimes in Prey Lang,” said Sarith.

Meanwhile, in Preah Vihear, Forestry Administration officials in Kulen district confiscated some 20 cubic metres of wood yesterday.

Community member Sem Lom, who witnessed the seizure, said the wood had been logged in Preah Vihear province and was en route for sale in Siem Reap.

Kulen Forestry Administration officials declined to comment yesterday but confirmed the seizure.

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