Four people were seriously injured last week in Banteay Meanchey province when a soldier tossed a grenade into a group of squatters living on land claimed by an army general.
The attack is the latest violent encounter over disputed land in the Poipet area that has killed one and injured several people in recent months.
Thach Khorn, governor of Banteay Meanchey, said the assault was meant to threaten 100 families who are living on a swath of land in O’Chrou district claimed by General Thou Hok, an RCAF intelligence officer.
Thach Khorn said the suspect was a soldier under Thou Hok’s command. Thou Hok has a title to the land, but it is unclear how long he has had that title, Thach Khorn said. Though Thou Hok had a problem trying to remove the squatters from his land, he did not go to local authorities for help, Thach Khorn said.
The four injured squatters were sent to a local hospital for treatment. Police are still searching for the soldier who allegedly threw the grenade.
The attack on the squatters came just over a week after a military policeman was killed and three others were injured in a separate Banteay Meanchey land dispute. The policemen and a bulldozer driver who were guarding a disputed piece of land claimed by a military police chief, were attacked by men firing AK-47s and B-40 rockets. A bulldozer used to clear homes from the land was destroyed in the attack.
Por Vannak, military police chief of Battambang province, won a court ruling last year and about 70 squatter families were evicted from their homes along Route 5, which leads to Poipet.
Both Por Vannak and a local human rights worker said the attack appeared to have been carried out by soldiers, but it was unclear on whose behalf they were acting.
Land disputes have become common as property values skyrocketed from the opening of the border crossing and casinos.
with Thailand and casinos.