Man Arrested, Shots Fired at Land Dispute Protest

A villager was arrested and authorities fired shots Thursday in an attempt to quell a protest against the pending eviction in Preah Vihear province of more than 80 families at the hands of timber magnate Try Pheap, villagers said.

Huon Kino, a representative of the villagers, said Khen Tha, 49, was bundled into the back of a police car shortly after about 30 police, military police, and forestry officials arrived at the scene in Rovieng district’s Romany commune.

“Authorities told the villagers to leave here as soon possible and after began fighting with them,” Mr. Kino said, adding that authorities fired three shots into the air from an AK-47 assault rifle.

E Saro, Rovieng district police chief, said an official from the provincial environment department made the arrest.

Lor Chan, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the incident followed the Try Pheap Company on Wednesday lodging a complaint with authorities asking for the families to be removed from a 15-hectare swath of land.

“This is a serious violation of human rights that we cannot accept, we will contact our lawyer to proceed with this case,” Mr. Chan said.

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