Forestry Team Exchanges Fire With Suspects

A shoot-out between a government logging crackdown team and two men suspected of running an illegal sawmill in Takeo province ended Tuesday morning with the two men fleeing into the jungle, officials said Wed­nesday. No one was injured, officials said.

A 30-man team of forestry officials and military policemen encountered two men suspected of running a sawmill during a patrol, said Roth Savannara, chief of the Ministry of Agriculture’s forestry intervention police. He said the two men drew automatic weapons and exchanged fire with some of the crackdown team for about 10 minutes, before escaping into “deep jungle.” No one was injured, he said.

“There had been certain uncontrolled logging activities right there, but not on a big scale,” Roth Savannara said. He said the team later confiscated two chain saws and two ma­ch­ines from two separate saw­mills on Tuesday and one saw Wed­nesday in Tram Kak district in Takeo, which borders Kom­pong Speu and Kam­pot pro­vinces.

Prime Minister Hun Sen order­ed a crackdown on illegal log­ging in January 1999. Last month, a number of officials in Mondolkiri province were suspended for their alleged involvement in the trade.

Takeo Governor Kep Chuk Tema and provincial police had not been informed of the shoot-out by Wednesday, but the governor denied illegal logging was taking place in his province. “There is no logging in Takeo,” he said, adding it was happening in the bordering provinces.



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