A fight over a confiscated camera led to armed guards opening fire with AK-47s and seriously injuring three protesters in Battambang province’s Phnom Proek district yesterday, a victim said.
Speaking from a hospital bed, Soeng Heang told the Post that about 200 people from Phnom Proek district had gathered to protest against the measuring of disputed land by government officials and representatives of developer Suon Mean Sambath Company.
Soeng Heang, who was recovering after being shot in the thigh, said authorities were in the process of seizing the land and measuring it for redistribution to Suon Mean Sambath Company, a move that angered residents and left them without compensation.
“Because of not being content with such measuring, we have prohibited it,” he said.
“This is the third time that we have protested, because there has been no resolution for people,” he said.
He said residents and company representatives had been taking photos of each other’s activity, and tensions had flared when company representatives confiscated residents’ cameras.
A physical clash ensued before guards working for Suon Mean Sambath began shooting, Soeng Heang said.
Soeng Heang and the other victims, Chot Kun, 52, and Chhoeung Neang, 28, live in Phnom Proek district’s Bour commune.
Yin Mengly, an Adhoc investigator based in Battambang province, said residents had told him that the guards had fired with AK-47s.
“Using this weapon was not to defend themselves from people protesting. This shooting was intended to prevent people from protesting again,” he said.
Phnom Proek district police chief Sok Sopheak said police had no involvement in the shooting, but suspected that a military police official, Chan Ny, was one of the shooters. “Based on the information I received, he is Lieutenant Colonel Chan Ny, but I don’t know where he is from,” Sok Sopheak said.
He said the company had a licence to occupy the land but had no right to use AK-47s.
Chan Ny and Suon Meansambath Company could not be reached for comment.