Teenager Gunned Down Amid Land Dispute

A teenager was shot dead in Kompong Speu province on Wednesday night in what police suspected was an attack related to a land dispute involving a powerful businessman in Phnom Sruoch district.

District police chief Say Bunthon said that Sun David, 19, was shot three times with an AK-47 assault rifle at about 7:40 p.m. by a group of men in Treng Trayoeung commune when the dispute boiled over.

The three-year-old conflict over 6 hectares of land is between 58 families and a tycoon named Uk Khun, who holds the royally bestowed title of oknha, according to Mr. Bunthon.

He said Mr. Khun claimed to have documents giving him permission to develop the plot, but that villagers living nearby had recently begun attempting to move onto the land after the businessman failed to use it.

A week ago, he said, the tycoon paid 100 “outsider” families to temporarily occupy and construct huts on the plot, adding that tension between the families and local residents escalated on Wednesday night when one of the huts was set on fire.

“At 7:40 p.m., a hut was set on fire and then four or five men who were hired to guard the disputed land ran to put the fire out,” Mr. Bunthon said.

“After that, gunfire came from a dark place and one of the young men died.”

“The gunmen used an AK-47 rifle to kill the victim and they escaped from the scene, making it hard to find the killers,” he said, adding that the families feuding with Mr. Khun included police and soldiers.

Deputy provincial police chief Saom Bora said officials were attempting to locate the attackers.

“The victim was shot twice in his mouth and his nose last night at a dark area on a dirt road,” Mr. Bora said.

“Now our police are investigating to find the gunmen, but our initial conclusion is that it relates to the land dispute.”

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