Vietnam national park sabotaged by insiders, official says

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On Sunday, Vietnam's senior forest management official announced that illegal loggers have been assisted by rangers and the family of a local official in plundering a national park in the Central Highlands.

Yok Don National Park in Dak Lak Province reported an increase in illegal logging this month, with 344 trees felled including 174 precious trees as well as a seizure of official enforcement equipment, including three firearms.

Do Trong Kim, deputy head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Forest Management Department told Cong An Nhan Dan (People's police) newspaper that the crimes had been committed with official help.

He did not name or provide further information about the officers involved in the crimes.

Cong An Nhan Dan reported that local residents had questioned the "blatant" nature of the loggers' recent activities.

"Loggers used to be very discreet and destroy a small number of trees at a time. But they have been operating on such a large-scale recently," a local said.

Yok Don National Park is the largest in Vietnam in terms of its population of hardwood trees. The park spans more than 115,000 hectares and has become a hotspot for illegal logging recently.

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