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Officials say 16-year-old burned alive

Soldiers kill boy caught logging in Thailand, district governor says.

Oddar Meanchey officials Sunday accused Thai soldiers of shooting a Cambodian teenager and burning him alive.

Yon Rith, 16, was killed after Thai armed forces accused him of illegally felling trees, said Thon Nol, governor of Samrong district in Oddar Meanchey province.

Thon Nol said Yon Rith was first arrested and then burned. Another teenager from the same village in Kon Kreal commune, 18-year-old Mao Kleung, was also shot and seriously wounded, he said, but villagers managed to carry him to Cambodian territory, and he is is now in an Oddar Meanchey hospital.

Officials on Sunday denounced the violence as "cruel" acts carried out on unarmed villagers.

"Why did they burn a person alive? [The armed forces] should have arrested them if they did anything wrong in Thailand," said Pich Ratana, a Cabinet official in Oddar Meanchey.

"Our armed forces did not shoot Thai citizens when they were hunting animals in the Cambodian forest. They just arrested them and sent them back, but Thai soldiers do cruel things to innocent Cambodians," Pich Ratana said.

Thon Nol said officials would discuss the incident today.

"We are looking for all measures to assist the victims as well as actions on the Thai authority," Thon Nol said.

Thai Embassy officials could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Nanh Sovann, a Cambodian military officer who has worked with the Thai military, said Sunday he had heard of the incident but was waiting to see an official report before intervening.

The victim's family recovered his charred body and took it to their village for a funeral the day he was shot, Thon Nol said.

Thai officials have previously taken a heavy hand against Cambodians accused of illegal logging on Thai territory, particularly along the Oddar Meanchey border.

In August, 12 Cambodians were arrested along the border on suspicion of illegally logging.

Their disappearance initially prompted fears they had been killed, but the Thais have since revealed the men are in detention.

Two other men, however, were discovered dead last month. The Thai military said soldiers fired on the group in self-defence.



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