The Royal Cambodian Navy on Wednesday led a team of Koh Kong provincial security forces to Koh Kapi island, where they destroyed a Vietnamese religious shrine and evicted seven Vietnamese monks who had been living there.
Koh Kong provincial governor Bun Leut said that General Tea Vinh, commander of the navy, led at least 60 provincial officials, soldiers, police and military police to investigate reports of a religious shrine that had been constructed on the island without permission.
“At about 8 a.m. this morning, we sent our officials to cooperate with the navy for the trip to Koh Kapi,” Mr. Leut said.
Koh Kong provincial police chief Sam Khet Vien, who joined the team, said authorities burned down the illegal shrine, as well as a statue of a goddess spirit and several shelters where the monks had been living.
“After I got the order from the provincial governor, I came to check the island,” Mr. Khet Vien said. “To destroy the statue, we burned it, and we informed the Vietnamese monks who were there to leave.
“The provincial authorities left the island afterward, but troops from the navy stayed behind. That area now must be in the control of the navy only,” he added.
The police chief said the monks were instructed to return to the mainland and were not arrested because they had valid Cambodian visas.
Neither Mr. Leut nor Mr. Khet Vien could say when the shrine had been built, who besides the monks had been praying to it, or why the island had been chosen as a location for worship.
Gen. Vinh refused to discuss the operation and referred questions back to provincial authorities.
Navy spokesman Khun Vuthy declined to comment.
“I am on the way to investigate there [Koh Kapi], I cannot give you more details,” he said.