KBAL SPEAN, Cambodia -- For Noun Savy and her family, the end of Pol Pot`s Khmer Rouge in her tiny corner of northwest Cambodia did not mean the start of peace.
Instead, she and hundreds of villagers found themselves under attack from police and soldiers in the pay of powerful businessmen bent on evicting them from their homes along the Thai border in the shadow of giant casinos which have sprung up there.
Earlier this year, her 48-year-old husband Tham Buthin was shot dead in the sort of clash over land ownership that is increasingly common in the impoverished southeast Asian nation.
"I am so hurt. My husband survived the war but died defending our own land," said Noun Savy, the tears welling up in her eyes as she cradled her eight-month-old baby in her bosom in the village nestled in banana plantations.
In all, six people were shot dead when more than 200 military and local police moved in to evict Kbal Spean`s 218 families from the village that had been their home since 1997 -- the year Pol Pot`s ultra-Maoist guerrillas were chased from the region.
Villagers risked their lives to clear the Khmer Rouge landmines strewn across the farmland and jungle, as they rebuilt their lives after nearly three decades of civil war.
Bigger changes came in 1993 with the opening of the land border with Thailand, paving the way for an influx of Thai high-rollers desperate to get round their own country`s ban on gambling.
The advent of the casinos and investment turned border communities such as Kbal Spean into mini-boom towns catering to the vast hotel and leisure complexes.
But it also made the land that men like Tham Buthin had been living on incredibly valuable to the businessmen running the gambling enclave.
When villagers armed themselves with sticks, knives and petrol bombs to repel the evicters and protect what they believed was theirs by right, the police opened fire.