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Cambodian shot and killed by Lao soldiers

A Cambodian military official said yesterday that Lao soldiers shot and killed a Cambodian national who was suspected of crossing the border illegally from Stung Treng province to cut timber in Laos.

Sun Ban, commander of Battalion 701 stationed on the Cambodian-Lao border, identified the deceased as Tep Sokha, 30, from Kampot province and said Lao officials yesterday had requested Cambodian officials come to retrieve the body.

The shooting occurred after a group of villagers with 12 ox carts crossed the border on Tuesday at border posts 61 and 62 in Stung Treng’s Siem Pang district adjacent to Cham Pasak district in Laos, Sun Ban said.

Lao soldiers patrolling in the area fired shots at the villagers, whom they thought were illegal loggers, and the villagers fled back across the border, he said.

“They went deep into Laos territory about 3 kilometres, and Lao soldiers accused them of illegally entering their country for logging.

Siem Pang district Governor Shi Suon said he had reported the incident to provincial officials but that no diplomatic note had yet been submitted to the Lao government, urging them not to fire on Cambodian citizens.

“We do not know yet whether any other Cambodian citizens were injured, but the information I have received is that only one man was killed,” he said.

The shooting comes days before a planned visit by the new Lao premier, Thongsing Thammavong, who is to arrive in Cambodia on March 7 for meetings with King Norodom Sihamoni and high-ranking government officials to discuss improving bilateral relations between the two countries.

Three Cambodians have been killed and another injured by Lao soldiers since 2010, Shi Suon said.

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