One Cambodian man was killed and another wounded after they were caught logging illegally across the border in Thailand, officials said Sunday, the latest in a spate of such shootings by Thai security forces.
Dy Phen, director of the border relations office in Banteay Meanchey province, said the pair were part of a group of seven loggers from Thma Puok district who came under fire from troops in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province on Friday.
The group then bore the injured back to Cambodia without being apprehended or informing the Cambodian authorities, he added.
“The body was returned to the man’s family members on the same day as the shooting,” Dy Phen said. “They didn’t report to local authorities because they were afraid we would investigate their case and ask them who encouraged them to go to Thailand.”
Last month, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong met with his Thai counterpart Kasit Piromya, reportedly discussing the shootings of Cambodian loggers by Thai troops. Hor Namhong said following the meeting that Kasit had agreed that Thai authorities would be more lenient with trespassers.
On the same day as the talks, however, two Cambodians were killed by troops in Thailand’s Sisaket province. Cambodian officials claimed the loggers were attacked by the troops, though Thai Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said the soldiers were acting in self-defence.
“They were fired upon by [the loggers’] guards, who were armed, so the patrol had fired back in defence,” Thani said at the time.
Following the incident, the government sent a diplomatic note to Thailand inquiring about the shooting.
“I will use serious words to emphasise that the shooting is a cruel act and is unbecoming of a civilised country,” Hor Namhong said at the time.
Chan Soveth, head of monitoring for local rights group Adhoc, said Sunday that his organisation had recorded 16 Cambodians killed by Thai soliders near the border in 2010, with 29 killed since tensions between the two countries broke out in 2008.
“They should use the law in these situations, not violence,” Chan Soveth said.
Thai officials could not be reached for comment Sunday.