Forestry Officials Injured in Police Brawl

Three forestry officials were allegedly beaten Wednesday in Pursat province’s Sam­­pou Meas district after confiscating a load of luxury timber, in an attack that the officials claimed was led by a Pursat pro­vince police officer.

Pursat provincial forest administration officer Moeun Veasna said he and colleagues Chea Bunly and Pov Heang were slightly injured in a brief brawl with police officer Kong Dara, of the police’s information unit, and at least 10 of Kong Dara’s associates.

The forestry officers filed a complaint against Kong Dara with the provincial court, Pursat Provincial Court Prosecutor Kong Bin said Wednesday.

Kong Dara, who was not arrested, also filed a lawsuit against the forestry officials for seizing his logs, the prosecutor said.

“It is strange that the illegal logger sued the law enforcer,” Kong Bin said. He said he has ordered an investigation.

The fight occurred around 10:30 am in Roleap commune’s Stung Tauch village, Moeun Veasna said. The three forestry officers stopped two men driving motorbikes carrying timber and confiscated the wood, he said. The two drivers fled on foot.                                     A short time later, Kong Dara ar­rived with about 10 associates in tow, including his wife, Moeun Veasna said.

The group allegedly attacked the rangers, who fired four shots into the air during the brawl, the forestry officer said.

During the alleged attack, Kong Dara seized the camera the forestry officials had used to photograph the illegal timber and smashed it against a rock, Moeun Veasna said.

Pursat provincial police Chief Kong Sophara did not answer calls for comment Wednesday. No contact information was available for Kong Dara.

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