Soldier Shoots, Kills 18-Year-Old in Argument With Farmers

A Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) soldier shot dead an 18-year-old man on Saturday in Preah Vihear province’s Kulen district during an argument with the teenager’s family and neighbors, local police said.

Srayong commune police chief Kim Sarien confirmed that a soldier from Brigade 41 had been involved in a shooting incident at 2 p.m. on Saturday but said he did not know what motivated the attack.

“The suspect is a 30-year-old RCAF solider, Poeun Bas, who allegedly shot 18-year-old Try Chamroeun,” he said.

Provincial police chief Si Kiri said the soldier had opened fire on the young man after villagers wrested a chainsaw from the soldier when a tree he cut down fell into their soybean plantation.

“The solider shot the man dead because he was angry when villagers confiscated a chainsaw he used to cut down a tree to build a shelter for troops, but which villagers allege destroyed their crops when it fell onto their plantation,” he said.

The suspect was being held at the provincial police station and would be sent to court today, he added.

The victim’s father, Svay Min, 60, disputed the police’s version of events. He said that earlier on Saturday, soldiers from RCAF Brigade 41 had come to the area and ordered 10 families—who have been cultivating soybeans on 27 hectares of farmland in Srayong commune for more than a decade—to stop farming, claiming the land was the private property of Major Sun Ham.

“At about 2 p.m., two soldiers came with a chainsaw and cut a tree down onto the soybean plantation and when farmers came to ask why they had done it, he fired shots from his AK-47,” Mr. Min said, adding that he and other farmers ran to the scene after hearing gunfire.

“My son was already there and he took out his smartphone to photograph the soldier. Immediately the soldier pointed his AK-47 and shot him,” he said.

Mr. Min said his son was hit by two bullets, one in his right hand and a second that hit the right side of his body under his arm and exited through his left side.

“As soon as my son was shot, I and other villagers ran and grabbed the soldier’s gun and brought him to the commune police to be arrested,” he said.

Major General Neang Tim, commander of Brigade 41, which is based in Oddar Meanchey province, acknowledged the shooting had occurred but said an investigation needed to be carried out to determine what motivated Mr. Bas to open fire.

“The soldier must face the law because he shot and killed someone—but sometimes, people can provoke a problem,” he said.

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