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Six injured in illegal border crossing

SIX Cambodians were injured when Thai border troops fired on them for allegedly logging valuable hardwood in Thai territory close to the border with Oddar Meanchey province on Tuesday, officials said.

“Six Cambodians were shot at and injured by the Thai armed forces when they went into Thai territory to cut trees,” Dy Phen, chief of the Cambodia-Thailand Border Relations Office, said yesterday.

The injured men reportedly came to Trapaing Prasat district’s referral hospital for treatment on December 14, but they escaped from hospital before they could be questioned.

“They escaped from the hospital when authorities looked for them,” Dy Phen said.

Pok Sophal, Trapaing Prasat district’s military commander, reported differently yesterday, saying that only three people were shot and injured.  

“They were hired by businessmen to cut luxury wood in Thai territory and more villagers went to cut trees,” he said.

Srey Naren, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said yesterday that logging  is still a serious problem on the Thai-Cambodian border.

“People still look for wood to cut in Thailand, and Cambodian authorities are having no effect in preventing them,” he said.

“Thai soldiers must not shoot at people. It is cruel to do this. Thais have always hidden this problem.”

Srey Naren said that there have been six separate shooting incidents this year involving Thai troops and Cambodians, including five where people were killed and one where a person disappeared.

Representatives from the Thai embassy could not be contacted yesterday.

Dy Phen says he has discussed and held meetings with various officials to educate people against crossing into Thailand illegally, while continuing to look for those that are behind the case.

“I have asked the relevant officials to cooperate and educate people not to cross the border illegally and to arrest persons who hire people to cut wood in Thailand,” he said.

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