Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers, police in Prey Lang conflict

Villagers, police in Prey Lang conflict

Authorities investigate competing claims surrounding an altercation between villagers and soldiers in the forest last week.
Authorities investigate competing claims surrounding an altercation between villagers and soldiers in the forest last week. Photo supplied

Villagers, police in Prey Lang conflict

Villagers and police yesterday offered conflicting accounts of an incident on Friday in the Prey Lang protected forest, with villagers claiming they were intimidated by rangers for patrolling the forest and police maintaining the villagers were poaching.

Thy Vichet, 33, one of the community members in Kampong Thom’s Sandan district, claimed he and five other villagers were patrolling their O’Daskor community forest in Meanrith commune at around 8pm when they spotted a fishing net used to catch monkeys, and took it with them while they continued to patrol. They then encountered environmental rangers.

“We were patrolling the forest, and I wondered why the motorbikes of rangers were coming here at that time, [and then] I heard a few rounds fired,” he said.

Vichet said that he, his uncle Nhem Chheng and fellow patroller Kim Smach were detained by the rangers, while the other three villagers escaped, adding that a ranger began kicking his uncle.

“One of them pointed the rifle at me when I tried to assist my uncle, and shot another [round] near my leg,” he claimed.

Vichet said the rangers demanded a letter from them showing they were allowed to patrol, but they didn’t have one. The rangers also accused them of poaching, which he denied.

He said the rangers then took them to a station, and forced them to thumbprint a document, accepting they had committed poaching, before releasing them a few hours later.

Tith Samnang, provincial deputy police chief, said he sent four officers to investigate on Sunday and Monday. The investigation concluded that the villagers were hunting and the rangers shot in the air to stop them.

However, he said he had also educated six rangers not to fire their guns without proper cause or to detain villagers without informing police.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Angkor photo rules clarified

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) denied that it had banned the use of camera tripods in the Angkor Archaeological Park, explaining that the confusion stemmed from a long-standing rule which required commercial photographers and videographers to apply for permission to film. The explanation followed a

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At