A Cambodian girl was shot dead yesterday when security forces clashed with a village protest over an alleged land grab, rights groups said, in the latest territorial dispute to descend into violence.
Campaigners said the teenager was shot when hundreds of villagers involved in a long-running conflict with a private firm squared off against military officers and police in the eastern province of Kratie.
The Cambodian government has faced mounting criticism from the UN and rights groups over a string of increasingly violent land conflicts, with security forces accused of using live rounds against activists in at least four cases.
Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, who spoke to a villager who was with the victim before she passed away, said: “The bullet hit the girl in the pelvic area and she was dead before reaching hospital.”
According to locals in Kompong Domrey, security forces fired warning shots during the protest, but it was not known who had fired the fatal bullet, Ou Virak said.
Cambodia is reeling from the killing of leading environmental activist Chhut Vuthy, who was gunned down by a military policeman last month as he tried to document illegal logging, according to a government investigation.
The UN human rights office in Phnom Penh confirmed the death of the teenage girl, whose name and exact age were not specified, and said it had sent a team to the Kratie area to gather information.
National police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said he had no information about the fatality, but said armed forces had been deployed to the area to prevent villagers “trying to control the land illegally.”