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State to probe Thailand over border shootings

State to probe Thailand over border shootings

Foreign minister Hor Namhong has announced plans to send a diplomatic note to Thailand inquiring about the shooting of two Cambodian loggers by Thai troops last week.

The men, aged 17 and 37, were shot last week in Thailand’s Sisaket province after crossing the border from Oddar Meanchey province’s Trapaing Prasat district. The incident marks the sixth shooting this year in which Cambodian loggers have been killed by Thai security forces, according to local rights group Adhoc.

“Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will send a diplomatic note to Thailand about the violent shootings of loggers crossing into Thailand,” Hor Namhong said yesterday.

“I will use serious words to emphasise that the shooting is a cruel act and is unbecoming of a civilised country.”

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said, however, that the shooting last week had in fact been initiated by the Cambodian loggers.

“It was a routine patrol, and [Thai forces] came across some people illegally ... logging, and as they approached them to stop them, they were fired upon by their guards, who were armed, so the patrol had fired back in defence,” Thani said yesterday.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodian Foreign Ministry, dismissed this claim as a “pretext” and an “excuse” that Thailand has used repeatedly following such shootings.

Last week, Hor Namhong met with Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya. The two reportedly discussed the shootings of Cambodian loggers, and Hor Namhong said Kasit had agreed that Thai authorities would be more lenient with trespassers.

Thani said the two had agreed to differentiate between subsistence farmers and hunters and those who are caught logging illegally or trafficking in human beings. While those in the former group will not be prosecuted for crossing the border illegally, Cambodia and Thailand will cooperate to combat the latter, Thani said.

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