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More than 40 huts demolished and four arrested over land grabs

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
Four people are arrested for clearing forestland in Ream National Park. MoE

Preah Sihanouk authorities and park rangers yesterday dismantled more than 40 illegally-built huts and arrested four people suspected of clearing forestland in a national park.

The Environment Ministry issued a statement yesterday saying that a group of villagers constructed structures on plots of land within Ream National park.

The statement said the villagers built structures illegally in O’Trav village in Sihanoukville’s Muoy commune.

It said that on July 14, park rangers told villagers to tear down 43 huts in Muoy commune but they failed to remove them. Therefore, on July 27 authorities decided to dismantle all structures in the area.

The statement also said Ream National Park rangers yesterday arrested four people in connection with clearing and claiming forestland in Prey Nop district’s Ream commune.

It said the four were sent to the district police station for further questioning.

“Recently, there have been many cases of forestland clearing, especially in the Ream National Park,” the statement said.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the ministry is managing  conservation areas covering 7.3 million hectares.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned of legal action against officials and others involved in illegally occupying state land.

Mr Hun Sen also ordered three relevant ministries to allocate land for people who have lived in protected areas for years.

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