TWO Cambodian nationals are feared to have been shot and killed by Thai soldiers in separate incidents in Banteay Meanchey province’s Thma Puok district along the border with Thailand, officials said on Monday.
One man was shot dead by Thai soldiers in Banteay Meanchey province’s Thma Puok district on Saturday after straying into Thai territory to cut down trees, provincial governor Oung Ouen said.
The man, who was armed with an AK-47 rifle, was part of a group of 30 Cambodian villagers who crossed the border into Thailand’s Buriram province before coming under fire from Thai border troops.
The man with the gun was killed at the scene, and the other villagers managed to flee back across the border, Oung Ouen said.
“They still cross the border to cut trees illegally in Thailand, although the local authorities have warned them many times, especially in such
circumstances when Cambodia and Thailand have a border conflict,” he said.
However, he denied a report, published in the Thai newspaper INN on Monday, that all the Cambodians were carrying weapons and were dressed in military uniforms, saying the group was made up exclusively of citizens, not soldiers.
“We acknowledge that they have encroached into Thailand illegally, but they were all in civilian dress and not in military uniform,” he said.
He conceded, though, that the gun the victim was carrying was illegally used for the purpose of protecting his group.
“We have not identified the victim yet. We only received the news that his body was taken back to his hometown on Sunday,” he added.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said that he had ordered the Cambodian consul-general in Thailand to investigate the shooting on Monday, but could not give more details, as he had not yet received clear information about the case.
The second incident reportedly occurred on Sunday night. Officials and the relatives of a man from Sre La’or village in Thma Puok district’s Kork Romeat commune said they feared he had been shot dead by a Thai soldier while he was walking in the Dangrek mountains to gather ingredients for herbal medicine.
Rorn Chanla, the victim’s aunt, said the victim’s wife and her neighbours had gone to look for the body on Monday, after he failed to return.
Sre La’or village chief Yorn Sareth said he had sent a letter to the Thai authorities on Monday seeking permission to look for the body, but that he has not yet informed the Cambodian authorities of the case.