Preah Vihear Military Police are on the lookout for a soldier who shot a man hauling lumber in the neck in Choam Ksan district on Sunday night, apparently believing him to be an illegal timber transporter.

Phum Kim, 37, a solider with Preah Vihear’s provincial intelligence unit, fired five bullets from an AK-47 at a van loaded with 30 planks of wood in Sra Em commune after the driver allegedly sped up to escape the authorities, according to district Military Police Commander Pich Sophy.

“The first shot was from the front, injuring the driver’s assistant badly in the neck. When the van passed, the solider shot another four times from behind,” Sophy said.

“He tried to stop the van, but it did not stop, so he shot.”

Chhoeung Chet, 24, from Kampot province, was badly injured by the bullet. Chet allegedly purchased the planks and was transporting them to build a home in Kampot. He had informed police about transporting the wood, but had not asked permission from the Forestry Administration to ferry the timber south, according to Sophy.

Kim fled the scene and military police are preparing a case against him to send to court.

“The suspect escaped on his motorbike. He brought the AK-47 rifle with him. We are seeking to arrest him,” Sophy said, but declined to answer more questions, claiming he was busy.

Kuong Lou, director of the provincial referral hospital, said he was unaware of the case as he was attending the Health Ministry’s annual meeting in Phnom Penh.

A member of his hospital staff, who asked not to be named, said Chet was first admitted to a military hospital at Sra Em commune, but due to the seriousness of his condition, he was taken by military ambulance to the provincial hospital early on Monday morning.

“The military ambulance just dropped the injured man here and left without telling any information about the victim,” the medical staffer said.

Chet was sent to an emergency room for treatment and his condition had improved, but he needed to remain at the hospital for many more days, the staffer added.

“We did not see any bullet remaining in his neck,” he said.

Choam Ksan District Governor Chea Kim Seng said he was unaware of the shooting and would look into it. Sra Em Commune Police Chief Huy Sophun and Deputy Provincial Police Chief Chory Borin both claimed to be unaware of the case.