A man was shot and a 10-year-old boy injured during violent clashes between nearly 300 villagers and 200 policemen in Preah Sihanouk province on Thursday, with the adult sustaining serious injuries, while the boy was only lightly wounded.
The man was sent to a hospital in Phnom Penh for treatment, while four other protesters were arrested during the confrontation, which followed the deployment of authorities to implement a Supreme Court order.
The clashes broke out in Koki village, in Prey Nop district’s Bit Traing commune after nearly 300 villagers gathered, blocking the road and burning tyres in an attempt to prevent authorities from entering the area, said Adhoc Preah Sihanouk provincial coordinator Cheap Sotheary.
Sotheary said nearly 200 policemen carrying truncheons and riot shields, and equipped with an excavator and fire trucks, tried to enter the disputed area but were met with burning car tyres and villagers throwing rocks.
“The authorities could not enter because they were blocked by villagers throwing stones and burning [car tyres]. The villagers wanted to talk about the situation at first. The authorities used [many] strategies."
“Then at around 12 noon, guns were used like in a war. After the police entered the area, six men were arrested and detained. Two were injured. One was shot in the left shoulder, with the bullet hitting his chest near the lung. One boy, 10, was beaten, suffering light injuries,” she said.
Sotheary, who witnessed the event, said the gunshots and arrests made the villagers flee.
Authorities were then able to enter the area, where they measured the land and planted poles to mark a boundary, demarcating 71ha, she said.
Provincial authority spokesman Y Thearin, told The Post that four people were detained by provincial police.
Preah Sihanouk provincial prosecutor Huot Vichet told The Post that the police were merely following the Supreme Court order, without elaborating on its nature.
“Nobody initially opposed the [police] inspection, but some villagers interfered and burned car tyres, throwing bottles of petrol at the authorities."
“I don’t know where they were from. They don’t have land in that area. I don’t know who invited them."
“Now the land is vacant. Not much was built in the area. There were not many houses on the land, only 10 houses. Villagers tried to interfere with the work of the authorities,” he said.
According to villagers in the area, some people had been living there for many years, with some spending $4-$5,000 for their plots.