Police are searching for suspects who allegedly shot to death a So Nguon Group security guard and seriously injured another in Kampot province on November 18.
Provincial police chief Mao Chanmathurith told The Post on November 22 that after the shooting, police cordoned off the forest near the company owner's plantation where the incident took place and arrested two gunmen on the night of November 19.
He said police are investigating others who might be involved and searching for the ringleader, who they said was probably hiding in the forest.
He identified the arrested as residents aged 21 to 23 from Prey Peay village in Chhouk district’s Trapaing Phlaing commune.
“According to the suspects, more than 10 people were involved in the shooting including . . . the ringleader. This person and his accomplices are believed to be hiding in the forest with weapons,” he said.
Police have surrounded the area and are entering very carefully to intercept the armed group, he added.
On November 22, the company’s chairman, So Nguon, expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the authorities to investigate and arrest the armed groups.
He said he had received the land from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to cultivate various crops, but claimed people have been encroaching on the land.
He also expressed concern after receiving information that the ringleader and accomplices were continuing to hide in the jungles nearby.
“At the moment, we are still afraid that the gunmen will sneak out and shoot at our security guards again,” he said.
Nguon said if the gunmen remained at large, his company would not be able to continue development as planned and would suffer losses.
He said the shooting has made some investment partners skittish, especially Chinese investors who want to cooperate with the company to grow bananas.
Police said they suspected the shooting was the result of a land dispute because residents have accused the company of encroaching on their residential land.
The company has denied the allegations, claiming it was villagers who illegally encroached on its land.
The government granted the firm 6,300ha in Chhouk district in 2015 to develop agro-industrial crops.