Roughly 100 people armed with sticks, axes, machetes and tractor parts surrounded and retrieved three two-wheeled tractors and some timber from the O’Krieng Forestry Administration station in Kratie province’s Sambor district on Sunday, officials said yesterday.
According to station chief Seng Darun, the tractors and timber were first seized on January 19 during an operation between military police forces and local authorities, and were impounded temporarily at his Forestry Administration station.
“I have sent a report to my superiors with evidence of the villagers’ aggressive and illegal recovery of the vehicles and timber from my station,” Darun confirmed.
He added that he has yet to receive any orders from the provincial Forestry Administration, and local authorities have not yet identified the leaders of the mob.
According to Darun, the villagers hail from Sambor district’s Roluos Meanchey commune, so local authorities should already know who they are.
However, Bun Chhouen, Sambor district police chief, said yesterday that his team was still working to identify the suspects behind the raid.
Meanwhile, in a timber crackdown in Preah Vihear province, 43 pieces of sokrom and pring timber were confiscated during a joint operation between Chheb district forces and M’lou Prey Forestry Administration officials on Sunday.
Sok Monyrith, Chheb district deputy governor, said, “The timber was hidden in a bamboo forest near the state forest, located about 300 metres from Sangke village, Sangke I commune.”
He confirmed that the impounded timber was handed to forestry officials to be documented.
Seng Leang, M’lou Prey Forestry Administration chief, said that no one had claimed the timber so far, and if no one did, “it will be compiled and sent to the state inventory”.
He added that 22 pieces of first- and second-grade timber were seized during four forestry crackdowns so far this month.
In a separate bust in Pursat province, Leach Forestry Administration officials and local authorities seized 49 pieces of thnong timber during a joint operation on three timber stockpiles in Phnom Kravanh district’s Santre commune on Sunday, said Nin Sokong, a forestry administration official.
“The timber is currently temporarily impounded at Santre police station while authorities are looking for the timber owners, who will be fined according to the law,” he said.