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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Border patrol plan targets shooting toll

Border patrol plan targets shooting toll

Cambodia and Thailand have each agreed to create 15 new border patrol teams that will interact and share information in a bid to prevent the growing number of shooting deaths along the two nations’ shared border, officials said yesterday.

The project was discussed as governors from provinces along the Cambodian-Thai border met with Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong yesterday, discussing plans to prevent Cambodians from crossing the border to illegally log in Thai territory, a ministry official said.

The talks came just two days after a 28-year-old Oddar Meanchey man was shot dead by Thai soldiers while logging rosewood across the border, the latest to meet the grisly fate of many Cambodians who illegally cross into Thailand.

Long Visalo, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters after the meeting that a number of issues related to border development and cross-border cooperation were discussed, though talks focused on the creation of the border patrol teams, which would monitor illegal crossings.

“I met with Thai deputy foreign minister Jullapong Nonsrichai on May 8 in Poipet in order to stop Cambodian villagers who cross illegally into Thailand for illegal logging and the shooting of our innocent people,” Visalo said.

“We, both Cambodia and Thailand, each plan to create 15 border patrol teams to patrol the border in the area where there are many people crossing.

“Each team will patrol the border inside their sovereignty but will need to keep communicating . . . If Thai teams find Cambodian people crossing illegally, [they need] to be arrested and sent back . . . We have to avoid shooting them dead,” he said.

An anonymous military official in Oddar Meanchey province told the Post yesterday that Bou Rath, 28, was killed and four others wounded on Saturday after Thai soldiers open fire when they were caught illegally logging across the border.

“They were crossing the border deeper into Thailand to log rosewood, about 10 kilometres. It was difficult to access to bring back the dead body,” he said.

Pich Vanna, director of the Cambodian-Thai Border Relations Office, could not be reached for comment.

In 2012, at least 45 Cambodians were shot dead by Thai soldiers while crossing the border, a figure that tripled the 2011 death count.

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