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Heavy Clashes as Police Clear Phnom Penh Neighborhood

An unidentified resident clashes with a group of Phnom Penh dispatched police officers.

Security forces and protesters clashed in violent protests in Phnom Penh Tuesday, as police began to push residents from a neighborhood slated for development in the capital.

Protesters armed with rocks and bottles attacked police in riot gear who eventually deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse them.

At least 20 people, including some police and military police were injured, and at least 12 people were arrested, according to rights groups and eye-witnesses. Two were later released.

Some 300 families are set to lose their homes in the development deal, on land in the Borei Keila commune of Prampi Makara district, which was supposed to be set aside for some of the city’s poorest residents. Around 200 police and military police were dispatched to the area.

Sok Heng, a 13-year-old student of Wat Preah Puth school, said he was hit by policemen seized, even though he was a bystander.

“I didn’t know anything,” he told VOA Khmer. “Police arrested me after I came back from school.”

Phoung Thavy, 36, a resident of the neighborhood, wept near a pile of rubble that was once her home. “Where should we live without a house?” she said.

City officials declined to comment on the incident Tuesday.

Chan Saveth, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said the clash underscored increasing violence between police and protesters in the city. “This is not a resettlement,” he said.