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Landmines fell smugglers

Landmines fell smugglers

Motorcycle smugglers and illegal workers are being injured by landmines and Thai

bullets on the border at night in the Poipet area.

However, Post inquiries cannot confirm that the mines have been planted by Thai soldiers

to deter Cambodian trespassers. They could be old mines from the last border war.

Ok Thang, a staffer at Poipet NGO the Cambodian Hope Organization, said he knew of

three people dying and two injured either by mines or shooting since January. He

claimed Thai soldiers had planted mines on Cambodian land about 80 to 100 meters

from the border.

Bun Hor, chief of the Poipet border check-point, said that if Thai soldiers were

planting mines along the border it was mainly to prevent Cambodians crossing as illegal

immigrants.

Sok Sareth, police chief of Banteay Meanchey, said it was not unusual for Cambodian

border area residents to illegally work in Thailand. "We cannot implement enforcement

100 percent," he said.

"Some Khmer workers are injured by shots or mines when they go to work across

the border. They could be old mines left from the war, we don't know.

"It is their right to put mines at the border in their land, but they cannot

mine the Cambodian side. We respect each other, they cannot do that."

Thach Khorn, Governor of Banteay Meanchey, said many Khmer people worked in Thailand

but he was not aware of people smuggling stolen motorbikes across from Thailand to

sell.

"In the past Khmer workers were shot and raped by Thai soldiers when they went

to work in Thailand, but we set up a committee to solve this problem," Khorn

said.

The Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh did not respond to questions from the Post.

Ok Thang said that on August 11 Thai soldiers seized four smuggled motorbikes. He

said Thai sellers paid 500 baht per motorbike delivered across to Cambodia at night

to buyers, avoiding border taxes.

Thang said Cambodians in the Poipet area were desperate for paid work, and 80 percent

of the people in 11 villages at Obeichan commune worked in Thailand. Many were robbed

by Thai soldiers.

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