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Villagers Confront Police In Battambang

About 30-40 villagers in Bovel town, Battambang province, armed with knives and axes, sat around their fellow villager who is suspected of inciting the residents to clear a strip of land, say human rights officials and local authorities.

Former Khmer Rouge soldier Chhean Ny had his house surrounded by armed authorities who say they acted by court order. They say that Chean Ny led 3,000 families to clear the land and illegally build huts.

The local authorities are reported saying that the villagers destroy wild life habitat and grab state's property.

One villager says that he supports Mr. Chhean Ny because he cares about hungry people.

The land in question measures 36,000 hectares. Bovel town mayor Sim Dareth dismisses the villagers' charges saying his authorities do not threaten them, but instead try to have peaceful talks with them.

Cambodia Center for Human Rights In Kun Cheth, in charge of investigation in Battambang province, appeals for the authorities to act according to the law.

Battambang province deputy governor and committee for dispute solution's chief Siem Sim says he will try to convey the message to the villagers of their illegal action and will appeal for their departure.