Authorities are investigating the death of a 31-year-old Cambodian man who was gunned down near the Thai-Cambodian border by Thai soldiers early yesterday morning, a border official said.
Pich Vanna, deputy chief of the Cambodian-Thai Border Relations Office, said the shooting occurred in the Thai border province of Sa Kaeo.
“Sam Ream, 31, a worker, was shot dead at 3am and his body is now being kept at the hospital in Sa Kaeo province,” he said.
Pich Vanna said the victim had been with another man, but it was unclear whether they had been close to the border when Thai soldiers shot at them. He added that Cambodian officials were investigating Sam Ream’s death and working with Thai officials to determine why soldiers had shot him.
The second man, suspected to be from adjoining Banteay Meanchey province, had fled from Thai gunfire before telling the victim’s family about the shooting, Pich Vanna said.
“I don’t know whether [Sam Ream] was a legal or illegal migrant worker,” he said, adding the victim’s family had claimed he was not an illegal logger.
The shooting came less than a day after Prime Minister Hun Sen delivered an International Labour Day speech on Tuesday in which he urged Cambodians not to enter Thailand illegally for work.
The victim’s family will travel with investigating Cambodian officials to Sa Kaeo province for discussions with authorities there, he said, adding that Thai soldiers had fatally shot more than 20 Cambodians this year, the majority illegal migrant workers and illegal loggers.
According to human rights group Adhoc, Thai soldiers shot dead 13 Cambodians crossing the border illegally in the first three months of this year – the same number they shot dead during the whole of 2011.
Officials in Thailand could not be reached for comment.
In an unrelated incident over the weekend, 10 Cambodians were killed and 20 injured in two separate road crashes as their vehicles tried to outrun police in Thailand.
All of the Cambodians involved had crossed illegally into Thailand for work.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at [email protected]