A land dispute between residents and So Nguon Group Co Ltd escalated into a confrontation yesterday, leaving one security guard dead at the scene and one seriously injured.
Kampot provincial police chief Major General Mao Chanmathurith said there was a clash between the acacia plantation and people of Trapaing Phlaing commune, Chhuk district, that resulted in the death of one company security guard and the injury of another.
Maj Gen Chanmathurith said that the company’s owner So Nguon was given a land concession by the Ministry of Agriculture to cultivate various crops, but people have been encroaching on the land and claiming it as their own.
A few days ago, the Kampot provincial authorities tried to mediate but could not bring the parties to an agreement.
“We were aware of the dispute between company security guards and people who live on the land,” Maj Gen Chanmathurith said.
On Wednesday, the conflict escalated as people hid in the forest for cover to shoot at the security guards with air rifles.
“The company accuses the people of encroaching on its land, and the people claim that they have lived on the land for a long time,” he said.
Immediately after the incident, Maj Gen Chanmathurith called in specialised forces to help investigate. They are continuing to search for the perpetrators.
“Our penal specialist officer confiscated two firearms after the assailants fled into the forest and disappeared,” he said.
So Nguon realised that there was a clash between the people and his company, and this case started from a land dispute.
“Currently, the specialised police force is searching for the assailants who shot two of my security guards and I will not let the assailant go unpunished,” So Ngoun said.
Maj Gen Chanmathurith identified the victims as Nuon Pheaktra, 27, who lived in Svay Rieng province as the deceased, and Phorn Da, 31, living in Pursat city, Pursat province as badly injured.
Da was sent to a hospital in Phnom Penh for treatment.
The Kampot Provincial Administration posted on their Facebook page that in September, they also led the relevant officials in collaboration with So Nguon Group to disseminate information about stopping illegal encroachment on land in protected areas, community areas, forest cover and economic land concessions.
The provincial administration had warned all residents who illegally encroach on state land and claim to own it, especially in the area of the company, that they must immediately withdraw to avoid legal action, especially instigators and brokers, or the relevant authorities will take action in accordance with the law.