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Four Villagers Injured in Shooting by Plantation Guards

A Cambodian Buddhist monk sprinkles holly water to villagers who set a prayer rally to save rain forests in front of Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011. Hundreds of villagers prayed at the spirit's shrine, demanding the governme

At least four villagers were injured when security guards for a rubber plantation opened fire in a land clash in Kratie province Wednesday.

A 23-year-old man is in critical condition at the Snuol district health center after some 200 villagers assembled to block bulldozers from clearing their land.

Witnesses said security guards for the TTY Company opened fire with AK-47s.

Netr Ratana, 23, who was shot in the leg, told VOA Khmer she wants to see the arrest of the security guards, who shot at people “like birds.”

“I urge the government to resolve the land issue between villagers and the company,” she said. “Don’t let people keep suffering like they are today.”

Am Sam Ath, an investigator for the rights group Licadho, said the shooting took place when villagers tried to stop the bulldozers from destroying their cassava fields.

Private security guards opened fired without warning, injuring four, he said. He urged the authorities to “take action.”

It Sarin, a two-star adviser to the Ministry of Defense with ties to TTY, declined to comment Wednesday, saying he was on a “mission” in Preah Vihear province.

Khieu Butha, deputy police chief of Tapaong Kra Ngoung commune, said an investigation has been opened into the shooting. “The suspects escaped already,” he said.