Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Troops accuse NGO of bid to steal weapons

Troops accuse NGO of bid to steal weapons

Troops accuse NGO of bid to steal weapons

SOLDIERS in Kampong Speu province on Wednesday lodged a complaint with military police in Phnom Srouch district against members of the Cambodia Disabled Survivors’ Association, whom they have accused of destroying a Cambodian flag and attempting to steal weapons from a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces base, officials said.

Meanwhile, members of the Kampong Speu-based association filed a counter-complaint against the soldiers, accusing them of resorting to violence in thwarting an attempt by the association to clear land, and of confiscating their machetes and sharpened bamboo stakes.

The land is the subject of a dispute involving soldiers and the association, as well as local villagers.

Heng Kim Ly, the RCAF officer who filed the complaint, said that on Sunday, upon discovering that association members were clearing the disputed land, soldiers confiscated their tools and weapons, and ordered them to leave.

At about 4pm that afternoon, he said, 50 members of the association showed up at the RCAF base, having re-armed themselves with more machetes and bamboo stakes.

“They called us names like ‘stupid soldiers’ and dared us to come out to fight them,” he said. “Then they cut up the Cambodian flag at the base and tried to steal our weapons.”

He said the association should be held to account for “destroying public property and attempting to take RCAF weapons, like AK-47s”.

Touch Seouly, the association’s director, said its members had cut up the flag and hurled insults at the soldiers because their “materials” had been confiscated.

The association is involved in disputes centred on about 1,500 hectares of land in Kampong Speu, Preah Sihanouk and Kampot provinces. It claims to have been given the land by the government in 2006.

Inn Reaksmey, commander of the military artillery unit at Phnom Srouch, said Wednesday that he was investigating the two complaints.