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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Forest officers checking on wood theft beaten up

SANDAKAN - A forest officer and a ranger have suffered injuries after three men beat them with canes and sticks as they tried to prevent theft of wood in a forest reserve in Kota Belud.

Assistant forest officer Rosmin Suhod and forest ranger Ruslan Ayai of the Kota Belud Forestry Department were injured in the hands, legs and buttocks in the incident that took place at about noon last Saturday near Kampung Suang Punggur.

Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Manan said Rosmin and Ruslan had to flee from their assailants and hide in the forest until help arrived.

Another staff of the department, Mohd Nazriee Abdullaid, was ordered by a group of men armed with canes and parangs to drive off the car he had been waiting in nearby, threatening to burn the vehicle if he did not do so.

Sam said Mohd Nazriee drove off and sought help at his office and the Kota Belud police station.

Eleven staff of the Kota Belud Forestry Department and eight policemen rushed to the scene and rescued Rosmin and Ruslan, he said in a statement.

A doctor and three medical assistants arrived in an ambulance from the Kota Belud Hospital and attended to Rosmin and Ruslan, he added.

Sam said the group of men, believed to be from Kampung Suang Punggur, were involved in theft of wood from the forest reserve around the village.

He also said that forest officers collected 83 pieces of wood for use as court exhibits but found their path out of the forest blocked by a felled tree, but there was no one there.

Sam said the forestry department had arrested four men on July 29 suspected to have felled two trees in the Abai (Class V) Forest Researve in the Kota Belud district.

The assailants might have been angered by the arrests and had attacked the forest officers, he said. Similar cases had occurred previously, he said.

Poachers had attacked district forest officers in Ulu Segama Malua, Lahad Datu, on April 2, 2009, and the forest checking station in Jalan Silam, Lahad Datu, on July 9, 2014.

The most recent was the attack of Sabah Forestry Department enforcement officers by Kampung Sugut villagers in Beluran on Aug 14, 2015. --Bernama

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