Cambodia Ministry of Environment ranger Teurn Soknai was shot and killed by soldiers in northeastern Cambodia, on 30 January 2018. Photo: Wildlife Conservation Society

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, 31 January 2018 (AP) – Soldiers in northeastern Cambodia, an area where illicit logging and smuggling are rife, killed a forest protection ranger, a military police officer and a conservation worker in apparent retaliation for their seizure of equipment from illegal loggers, officials said Wednesday.

Keo Sopheak, a senior environmental official in Mondulkiri province, said the three-person team was attacked late Tuesday afternoon after patrolling in the Keo Siema wildlife conservation sanctuary. He said the dead civilian was a Cambodian employee of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society.

The three are the latest victims of an alarming trend in recent years, the murder of environmental defenders by parties seeking the financial exploitation of natural resources. Roughly 200 activists have been killed worldwide in each of the past two years, according to the U.K.-based watchdog group Global Witness.

"The three were killed not by robbers or a guerrilla group but they were shot by government armed forces who backed the illegal timber cutting," Keo Sopheak said. The conservation team had earlier confiscated chain saws and motorcycles from some Vietnamese logging illegally, he said.

A copy of a report sent by Mondulkiri police chief Ouk Samnang to National Police Chief Neth Savouen seen by The Associated Press identified three border security officials who it said had shot and killed the conservation team.

The report named Phal Penh, a border police officer, Keut Vehar and Ngur, border military officers, as the shooters. Cambodian security forces are known to collaborate with illegal loggers who smuggle the wood to neighboring Vietnam. [more]

Cambodian forest protectors slain after confronting loggers

By Morgan Erickson-Davis
31 January 2018

(Mongabay) – Three people have been shot and killed by soldiers in northeastern Cambodia, according to officials as reported by The Associated Press. Those killed were a conservation worker, a military policy officer and a forest protection ranger, reportedly because they had seized equipment from illegal loggers.

Keo Sopheak, a senior environmental official in Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province, said the attack happened Tuesday afternoon as the conservation team was patrolling in Keo Siema Wildlife Sanctuary. Keo Sopheak said of the men killed was a Cambodian employee of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The U.S.-based NGO is running a project at Keo Seima aimed at conserving its forests and wildlife through capacity-building initiatives with local communities.

According to a statement provided by WCS, those killed were Ministry of Environment ranger Teurn Soknai, military police officer Sek Wathana, and WCS SMART officer Thul Khna.

Keo Sopheak said the three-person team had confiscated chainsaws and motorcycles from illegal loggers from Vietnam. He reportedly asserted that they were killed by soldiers: “The three were killed not by robbers or a guerrilla group but they were shot by government armed forces who backed the illegal timber cutting.”

A report sent by Mondulkiri police chief Ouk Samnang to National Police Chief Neth Savouen and read by The Associated Press names three border security officials as responsible for the killings: Phal Penh, Keut Vehar and Ngur. Phal Penh was reportedly a border police officer while Keut Vehar and Ngur were border military officers.

Illegal logging and timber smuggling is commonplace between Cambodia and Vietnam. According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a UK-based NGO, around 300,000 cubic meters of logs were smuggled from Cambodia to Vietnam between November 2016 and May 2017.

Most of Mondulkiri province is officially protected, but satellite data from the University of Maryland show areas of heavy tree cover loss along its border with Vietnam. Officials on both sides of the border are often complicit, according to watchdog groups like EIA, and reap huge financial rewards for enabling timber trafficking. [more]

More murders: Conservationists allegedly killed by soldiers in Cambodia


  1. Anonymous said...

    It's always been "legal" to kill those who seek to protect the environment, in the sense that it happens very often, prosecutions are extremely rare and their justification for their murder is often found in the government, press and industry.

    But it is illegal for protectors of the environment to kill those that are destroying the planet.

    The term "eco-terrorist" is used to denigrate, dehumanize and deride that that seek as health, safe planetary environment that can sustain ALL life.

    As usual, the narrative and the focus and the "rightness of a cause" are turned on it's head to mean the exact opposite of what it actually does mean.

    Most "eco-terrorists" such as myself do not want to kill anyone, but we also don't want to allow the real terrorists to remain unpunished, unleashed and unrepentant of their ongoing crimes against humanity and the biosphere. These people are the real terrorists. These are the real destroyers, lacking in empathy, reservation and moderation. They hire killers, mercenaries and workers to kill for them.

    It's all backwards, every bit of it. It is they who should be killed, and it is they who should die for what they've done. Robbing ten thousand generations of a habitable future isn't some petty crime of resource theft and destruction - it's genocide.  

  2. messtime said...

    There needs/needed to be a united effort by all those concerned about the environment to advocate a world wide network of birth control clinics and BC education. Many people are looking for ways to make a living from an over-crowded world.  


Blog Template by Adam Every . Sponsored by Business Web Hosting Reviews