A man was seriously wounded after being shot Sunday afternoon by a rubber plantation guard in Kompong Cham province’s O’Reang-ou district, police and rights workers said Tuesday.
The victim, Kheang Keang, 20, was shot through the right thigh at the Peam Chaing rubber plantation when he and two accomplices attempted to steal rubber resin, said deputy provincial police chief Seng Sokim.
“Although the victim is a thief who tried to steal resin, the rubber plantation guards had no legal right to shoot to kill the victim,” Seng Sokim said.
He added that the plantation guard, whom he identified as long-time plantation employee Y Pheap, has fled and is being sought by police.
Seng Sokim said Kheang Keang’s right thighbone was shattered when the bullet passed through his leg. Doctors may have to amputate, he added.
Sim Heang, provincial investigator for local rights group Adhoc, said the shooting was provoked by the theft of only 2 kg of soiled resin.
“The victim was shot at while the gunman was very close,” he said, adding that the wounded man was brought to hospital by his accomplices after the guard fled the scene.
Sim Heang said rubber plantation guards in the province have shot four people dead and wounded another seven since 2005—a figure that police confirmed as accurate. Sim Heang called on the authorities to take strong action against the offenders to prevent further plantation shootings.
Seng Sokim said that there have been no arrests in any of these shootings because in each instance the gunmen fled.
In April 2006, a fatal shooting at the Chamkar Andaung plantation sparked protests by 300 villagers who burned down the plantation’s guardhouse and the home of its chief guard before torching the home of the plantation director.
In the days following that shooting, Provincial Governor Hun Neng announced that all the province’s state-owned plantations would have their private guards replaced by policemen to prevent another killing.
But in October, a 26-year-old man was shot dead at a Ponhea Krek district rubber plantation by a suspect who authorities identified as a commune police officer.
The officer escaped following the shooting.