Three Cambodians suspected of illegal logging in Thailand were reportedly shot dead by Thai forestry officials in Sisaket province on Tuesday morning.
The forestry officers were patrolling the wildlife sanctuary near the border with Cambodia in Katharalak district when they came upon the three Cambodians, the Bangkok Post reported yesterday.
A gunfight broke out lasting more than 10 minutes, according to the report. After the clash, the three men’s bodies were discovered close to 18 rosewood logs.
If exported, it is estimated that the rosewood could have fetched up to 10 million baht ($315,000). Along with the logs, Thai officials found logging paraphernalia including eight saws, four axes and five head torches.
Touch Ra, border patrol chief at the Choam Sangam border in Oddar Meanchey, said he had contacted the Thai military, but had not confirmed the deaths.
“I’m not sure if it happened.… I will not be sure unless I get a report and the bodies from Thailand,” he said.
At a meeting on the border held in May, both countries agreed to create 15 border patrol teams as part of a working group to share information in the hope of containing the increasing number of deaths along the two countries’ long border.
But Touch Va said the fruits of this meeting had yet to filter down to the Choam Sangam border, saying he meets with Thai military officials once or twice a month, but had no knowledge of the working group.
“We have informed people not to enter Thai territory, because we are afraid they will be shot. Although they know about it, they say they are poor and they cannot harvest their crops and that’s why they have to go,” he said.
“It is very difficult [for us], because they go secretly at night and we do not know – but we do when they are shot dead. The Thai side says they shoot for self-defence but we have never seen Cambodian bodies or Cambodians arrested who had guns with them,” he added.