Officials deny armed conflict reports

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Authorities seized a number of illegal weapons from villagers accused of taking up arms against each other including improvised firearms, swords, machetes, slingshots and axes. Photo supplied

Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities said that they are questioning 15 people after media reports alleged locals had armed themselves with improvised firearms, swords, machetes and slingshots, before turning against each other in a bid to seize state land at Bit Traing commune’s Koki village in Prey Nop district.

Preah Sihanouk provincial police chief Chuon Narin told The Post on Wednesday that authorities began investigating Wednesday’s alleged incident a day after it was said to have occurred.

Narin said: “The provincial governor heard that there was a shooting and he ordered officials to investigate. [Provincial police] also went to the scene and there had been no shooting.

“We found some people with samurai swords, axes, machetes, slingshots and homemade rifles. As a result, 15 people are being questioned.”

Narin said that the investigation concluded that there was no evidence of a violent confrontation having occured and blamed erroneous media reports alleging villagers had turned against each other to grab each other’s land.

He could not confirm whether the 15 people being questioned lived on the state land, only saying that authorities were duty-bound to question those accused of threatening security.

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Phearum told The Post that while more than 10 people were being detained questioned over the incident, he had yet to receive a detailed report as of Thursday evening.

He confirmed that the site of the alleged incident was state land governed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.