Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ranger station razed by mob



Ranger station razed by mob

The remains of an environmental ranger station that was burned down on Friday by a mob of people angry at having been stopped from clearing protected forest land in Mondulkiri province. Photo supplied
The remains of an environmental ranger station that was burned down on Friday by a mob of people angry at having been stopped from clearing protected forest land in Mondulkiri province. Photo supplied

Ranger station razed by mob

A mob of some 60 men burned down an environmental ranger station inside Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary on Friday, allegedly as revenge against rangers who had previously stopped them from clearing forest, an official said yesterday.

Keo Sopheak, provincial environmental department director, said the men rode motorbikes and carried more than 10 petrol bottles to the station, where two environmental rangers and two military policemen were temporarily staying.

“About 60 unknown men stormed into the station with their faces covered with scarves,” he said.

Some of them, he said, talked to the rangers while others managed to set the station on fire from behind.

“They threw more than 10 bottles of gasoline into the station, which was completely destroyed by the blaze and then they escaped,” he said.

Though the men have not yet been identified, Sopheak said he suspected they were a group who had previously been illegally clearing land inside the wildlife sanctuary but were stopped by rangers.

“That made them angry,” Sopheak said.

No rangers were injured, but a few sets of uniforms, shoes, hammocks, a car battery and food inside the 5-by-6-metre station were destroyed, he added.

The department is now preparing to take legal action with the provincial court this week.

“It won’t take long, and we will know who is behind this,” Sopheak said, before characterising the incident as being brought on by “rage and turmoil”.

District Governor Sin Vannvuth yesterday said only some of the men were land clearers, but declined to comment further.

Kreung Tola, a local community representative, said he believed that the arson was caused by loggers.

“If they are not happy with the rangers, they should have protested . . . instead,” Tola said.

In a number of previous instances around the country, villagers have overwhelmed remote Forestry and Fisheries Administration outposts in bids to force the release of arrested compatriots or to reclaim confiscated equipment.

In a separate incident in Ratanakkiri province, seven Vietnamese nationals were arrested on Saturday morning for allegedly illegally felling timber.

Chea Bunthoeun, provincial deputy police chief in charge of immigration, said yesterday that the group had illegally crossed the border at the point where O’Yadav, Bakeo and Andong Meas districts meet.

“They logged and hauled [timber] with tractors. We managed to arrest seven people, while four to five people managed to escape,” Bunthoeun said.He said that villagers had tipped them off to the group’s activities.

“We witnessed the action and arrested them, because anyone can arrest them for a red-handed crime,” he said.“We brought them to the provincial police station where they were questioned and reported to the provincial prosecutor as well.”

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Five of the seven Vietnamese nationals were arrested yesterday for illegal logging in Ratanakkiri province. Photo supplied

He added that five chainsaws were seized, while five tractors were left in the forest due to the difficulty of bringing them out.

Sovan Bunthai, provincial coordinator for right groups Licadho, said he received many reports from the community of alleged forest crimes committed by Vietnamese nationals, particularly near the border in O’Yadav’s Sesan commune and in Andong Meas’ Nhang commune.

“However, the crackdowns of the authorities are not really effective,” he said.

But Nhem Sam Oeun, Rattanakkiri Provincial Hall spokesman, maintained that incursions by Vietnamese loggers were rare.

“We need to interrogate them to know how could they crossed [the border] and logged,” he said.

Provincial prosecutor Liv Sreng said yesterday afternoon that the arrestees had not yet been sent to court because authorities had not finished questioning them.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in