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Thai soldiers shot logger, villagers say

A25-YEAR-OLD man from Oddar Meanchey province on Tuesday became the latest Cambodian logger to be shot by Thai soldiers, villagers and rights workers said.

Ly Khleung, of O’Smach commune in Samroang district, was returning from a cross-border logging expedition with 11 other people when he was shot, sustaining wounds in a hand and his torso, but survived, his father, Ly Kim Eng, said.

“It is normal for people living in O’Smach commune ... to earn a living by logging. In the past, [Thai soldiers] just shot to warn, but now they shoot to kill,” Ly Kim Eng said

“I am scared when I venture across the border into Thailand, but I must go to make a living,” he said, adding that he would abandon logging if he had even half a hectare of farmland.

Srey Naren, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said 11 loggers from the province had been killed by the Thai military since the beginning of 2009.

Most recently, 21-year-old Chhoeun Roun failed to return from a January 24 logging expedition. Though no body was discovered, his family held a funeral for him on Saturday after discovering a pool of blood at the site where Chhoeun Roun and his companions had been fired upon by Thai soldiers.

Srey Naren said Thai authorities do not reciprocate the fair treatment their citizens receive when they are arrested by Cambodian officials.

When Cambodia arrests Thai loggers, “they are not detained for a long time, but when Thailand arrests [Cambodian loggers], they are detained at length, and requests for their return ... are rejected”, he said.

Mak Borin, O’Smach commune police chief, said he has advised people not to enter Thailand to cut trees, but that they are forced to do so because they have no other way to generate income.

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