A 21-year-old Cambodian man was allegedly shot by Thai soldiers on Thursday after crossing the border to illegally log rosewood, officials in Oddar Meanchey province said yesterday.
Nhan Sarom, O’Smach deputy commune chief, told the Post> that border soldiers opened fire on a group of more than 10 loggers who had crossed into Thai territory on Thursday morning.
“One of them was badly shot in the thigh and was helped by villagers who sent him back to Cambodian territory. His brother is still missing in the forest,” Sarom said.
According to Sarom, the injured man is from Battambang province but had been staying with his brother in Oddar Meanchey’s Apivath village for about two months before the incident.
Khlouk Huouth, chief of the provincial referral hospital, identified the victim as Uy Sochitra.
“He was admitted to O’Smach Health Centre but forwarded to my provincial hospital due to his serious injuries,” Huouth said.
“Three small pieces of bullet were found in his thigh. He’s getting better now but is still at the hospital,” he added.
However, Chhey Veasna, O’Smach commune police chief, denied that the incident ever occurred.
“I also heard about that and searched for the truth but it is just a rumour,” Veasna told the Post yesterday.
The O’Smach commune chief, Phem Sam Ath, declined to comment.
According to the Ministry of Interior, 69 Cambodians were shot dead while illegally crossing the Thai border last year. In March, Cambodian officials said that Thai soldiers had fatally shot 12 Cambodian loggers in a single day.
Sarom, the deputy commune chief, said that in the last month, 15 Cambodians were arrested and now face up to seven years in prison for logging in Thailand. He said other Cambodians have been missing since crossing the border.
“Villagers bribe border officers so that they are allowed to cross the border to log. I saw a truck waiting to transport rosewood from the loggers. They are involved in corruption,” he said.