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Suspects Sought in Battambang Shooting

Police are searching for three businessmen in Battambang province, following the near-fatal shooting of a villager in Bavel district Wednesday night, in possible relation to an ongoing land dispute.

Bun Sophoas, 32, was shot outside the home of a representative for families who say their land is under threat by business interests in Knarch Romeas commune, local authorities said Thursday.

Bun Sophoas remained in serious condition in Battambang provincial hospital late Thursday.

Bun Sophoas is married to the sister of Kong Chan Mony, who represents 38 families of the Ovar Preng community, which spans 160 hectares of mostly rice fields. He had spent the night in their home Wednesday and was roused by the barking of a dog, around midnight. When he went outside to investigate, he was shot in the back.

Kong Chan Mony told VOA Khmer Thursday that the shooting was likely related to a dispute over the community, which he said has been under threat from three local businessmen—Nhiek Oeun, Mon Nika, and Moek Heng—since 1999.

“Before the shooting, the community received a verbal threat from [the businessmen], that they would be killed if they didn’t provide 160 hectares of land to them,” he said.

Police are searching for the three men to question them over the shooting, Knarch Romeas Commune Chief Lam Vanny said Thursday.

None of the suspects could be reached for comment Thursday.