Five Cambodian men were shot by Thai soldiers on October 9 after crossing the border to illegally log rosewood, according to an NGO and a local official.
Chhit Chhorn, deputy chief of the Oddar Meanchey provincial police, told the Post yesterday that Thai soldiers opened fire on a group of more than 15 loggers who had crossed into Thai territory.
Five men were injured and sent to hospitals in Anlong Veng and Siem Reap, according to Chhorn.
“I am not sure how many were seriously injured,” he said. “Those [who engage] in the most risky activities are not the local villagers but migrants from other provinces who live [at the border] for three to four months after being lured in by brokers.”
Srey Naren, Oddar Meanchey coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said initial reports indicated the five men, aged from 21 to 35, were all injured in the legs.
“I have not yet investigated the case, but preliminary reports indicate that about 15 people crossed the border to smuggle rosewood and escaped back to Cambodian territory by themselves after the shooting,” Naren said.
Lieutenant General Siek Socheat, head of the border communications office, said he was not aware of the shooting and that his subordinate Chin Piseth had not yet heard from the Thai side. Thai authorities could not be reached.
The shooting is far from an isolated incident. Last week, Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs slammed the Thai army for killing two Cambodian loggers on September 28.
“[The ministry] requests the authorities concerned of Thailand utilize peaceful measures to avoid violence [in] shooting deaths in the future,” a letter to the Thai embassy reads.
But Thailand has done little to acknowledge the issue.
Its own Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently claimed no Cambodian loggers were shot between January 1 and September 2, even though the Cambodian Ministry of Interior had previously reported 12 being killed in a single day this March.