Villagers Storm Kratie Military Police Compound, Take Trucks

An angry mob stormed a military police compound in Kratie province on Wednesday to retrieve two trucks loaded with wood that were confiscated for not having proper licenses, and two villagers were seriously injured, a rights worker claimed.

Provincial military police chief San Bunthan, however, flatly denied there had been any clash.

In a video posted to the local Fresh News website on Wednesday, about 50 villagers can been seen dragging the two trucks and two military police vehicles from the compound in Prek Prasap district’s Sorb commune.

Hean Cheavkun, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said a dispute broke out with military police shortly before the incident was caught on camera.

“I got information that two people were seriously injured and three other people suffered minor injuries during a fight with the military police in the morning,” Ms. Cheavkun said, adding the pair were recovering at the Kratie Referral Hospital.

Villagers in the area had been transporting loads of wooden stakes for years to support their pepper farms and did not believe such quantities required a license, she said.

Mr. Bunthan, the police chief, claimed the hospitalized villagers had sustained their injuries the night before, when one of the trucks crashed into another during the routine check for wood licenses.

“Military police stopped a truck loading the poles for supporting the pepper plants and another truck hit it from behind and the front glass was broken,” Mr. Bunthan said, adding that the trucks had been confiscated because the drivers were unable to provide the required wood license.

Eng Hy, a spokesman for the National Military Police, said the two vehicles were returned the next day along with the wood after the culprits vowed not to commit the same crime in the future.

Keang Hong, director of the Kratie Referral Hospital, said two men were admitted on Tuesday after a car crash, but had no further details.

(Additional reporting by Ouch Sony)

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