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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bodies of two loggers found after Thai raids

Bodies of two loggers found after Thai raids

Thai border troops said to have fired on groups.

THE bodies of two Cambodian men were discovered this week near the Thai-Cambodian border by residents of Oddar Meanchey province's Trapaing Prasat district after villagers and officials said the Thai military opened fire last week on a group of Cambodian men illegally logging in Thai territory.

Keo Tann, the Trapaing Prasat district police chief, said Thursday that the body of 35-year-old Chum Pov of Oddar Meanchey was found Tuesday around the uncertain border between his home province and Thailand's Sisaket province. On Thursday, the body of Monh Pheak, age unknown, of Kampong Chhnang province, was discovered around the same area, he said.

Both bodies were cremated at the scene, he added.

Villagers from Traipang Prasat found the two while searching for signs of men who they said had been missing since a pair of incidents last week left 11 men detained in a Thai prison and an uncertain number still unaccounted for.

Keo Tann said he believed the men were killed August 20, in an incident after which an unknown number of men remain missing.

The thai military should find the perpetrator and put him in jaiL.

This came just three days after another incident in the same area in which 11 men were arrested by Thai troops and one man was injured.
"We are investigating to determine the exact number of missing men. It is difficult to figure out who is missing because many loggers are new-comers to Oddar Meanchey province and they don't report their presence here to local authorities," Keo Tann said.

Leu Chandara, the deputy chief of the Thailand-Cambodia relations office at the Chom border gate, said that soldiers from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces were planning to search for the missing Cambodians after receiving permission from their Thai counterparts.

He said that the Thai military claimed its soldiers had only fired on the loggers in self-defence, as the loggers were armed themselves.

Vann Kosal, governor of Trapaing Prasat district, said that he does not believe this explanation.

"It's just an excuse by the Thai side. They want to twist the story around," he said.

He blamed both the Thai military and the businessmen who sent the loggers into Thai territory for putting their lives in danger.

Chan Soveth, a senior monitor for the rights group Adhoc, urged the soldiers involved to take responsibility for the men's deaths.

"The Thai military should find the perpetrator and put him in jail. This is a human rights violation," he said, adding that poor Cambodians who do not understand the regulations governing border crossings are at special risk of exploitation by logging contractors.

Officials from the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh were unavailable for comment Thursday. A spokesman from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs said he needed to gather information about the case and did not comment.

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