MEMBERS of military families living on protected forest land in Oddar Meanchey province on Saturday opened fire on Forestry Administration officials and physically assaulted 10 of them, officials said.
Von Bunthoeun, chief of the Forestry Administration office in Samraong town, said a group of his staff members had gone to the site to inform the families that they would be evicted, but came under attack before the message could be delivered.
“They tried to shoot us, but they shot in the wrong direction, and then they tried to beat us while we were running to our cars,” Von Bunthoeun said, adding that 10 officials had been assaulted.
Officials last week said they were seeking the arrest of a village chief and a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces officer who they said had illegally convinced 200 military families to settle in the Romduol Veasna protected forest area, located in Samraong.
Mlis Hoeurt, who administers the protected forest area, said most of the 200 families had moved there since January.
He was among the officials who said they were assaulted on Saturday.
“I am lucky, because they pointed a gun at me, but when they were shooting some of the family members slapped the gun and it went in the wrong direction. Then they ran and beat me,” he said, adding that he suffered serious injuries to his head, face and leg.
“Now, I and some of the other officials living in the protected forest community have run away from home because we are afraid,” he said.
He added that the Forestry Administration had filed complaints to the Interior Ministry, Siem Reap provincial court and NGOs about the incident.
Thon Nol, the governor of Samraong, said he had lodged a complaint with provincial officials.
Mok Sovan, the top RCAF official in Samraong, said he had no knowledge of soldiers or their families committing violence against Forestry Administration officials, but said he would look into the complaints.