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Three Hospitalized in Kampot Crackdown

Security forces, including police and military, continued forced evictions in Kampot province for a second day Tuesday, following the injuries of at least three villagers Monday.

The authorities destroyed an estimated 230 small homes in Ta Ken commune, Chhouk district, in two days of operations to oust residents from a national park, officials said.

Soldiers and police on Monday beat seven people, striking them with rifle butts and sending three to the Kampong Speu provincial hospital, villagers said.

Touch Sambath, a doctor at the hospital, confirmed the arrival of three patients Monday night, one of them seriously hurt with strikes to his eyebrow and head. All three patients remained in the hospital Tuesday, he said.

"The villagers attacked the armed forces first" with axes and machetes, said Kampot Governor Nam Set. None of the armed forces were injured, he said.

A land dispute between the villagers in the commune and provincial environment officials has continued since September, with authorities claiming that 306 families are occupying protected land.

Villagers say many of them have lived on the land since 2000, and they suspect the land is now being re-distributed to a private company for residential development.