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Officials' hand in raid denied

BANGKOK POST August 26, 2000

Rumours that officials were behind a raid on highlanders' lychee plantations in Chiang Klang district are false, says a provincial head.

On Monday, nearly 5,000 villagers from six tambons in Chiang Klang rallied in protest against Hmong for allegedly encroaching on forest land, contaminating streams.

Some villagers raided Hmong lychee plantations in Pha Daeng forest at Doi Phu Kha National Park, cut down 50,000 lychee trees and torched 20 houses.

Assistant Nan governor Adul Polpra-in said no government agencies were behind the raid. However, the province would look into the allegations should any villagers complain.

Chiang Klang district was trying to ease conflict between the sides. A checkpoint had been set up at Ban Hua Nam, Tambon Phra Thart, to bar villagers from entering the troubled area, he said.

According to a report by Chiang Klang district, 5,900 lychee trees and 34 houses belonging to some Hmong in Pha Daeng forest were destroyed in the raid. The cost of damage is estimated at 7.5 million baht.

Wuthipong Srisilp in Nan