Two Cambodian soldiers carrying timber who had crossed the border into Thailand near Oddar Meanchey province were shot dead by Thai border soldiers, Cambodian provincial police officers said yesterday.
The two Cambodian soldiers, Soth Veth, 23, and Yuon Neath, 53, were from an artillery unit in Samrong town according to Mao Samnang, police chief in Koun Kriel commune.
Armed Thai soldiers shot the two twice in the chest when they were about five kilometres into Thailand’s Surin province at about 3:30pm, attempting to transport illegally logged timber into Cambodian territory, Chhit Chhorn, deputy chief of staff at the provincial police office, said.
“We do not know how many Cambodian soldiers went there,” Chhorn said.
“The army office does not want the unfortunate information to be known, they want to keep it secret.”
In May, Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the summary shooting of Cambodians by Thai border police, pointing out that the border was not clearly demarcated by pillars or fences.
“It is not a reason for extrajudicially killing these villagers who are also human beings, although not Thai citizens, because such action is not conducive to maintaining healthy bilateral ties between the two countries, and it is also a violation of universally recognised humanitarian principles and human rights,” the May statement reads.
Srey Naren, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that about 15 Cambodians, mostly illegal loggers, had been shot dead by Thai soldiers this year in Oddar Meanchey.
The number of deaths this year is higher than last year’s reported 11 cases, he said.
“Poverty is one of the reasons for those victims to take a risk and do logging,” Naren added.
San Vanna, deputy governor of Oddar Meanchey province, said Thai soldiers should not have shot the Cambodian soldiers, they should have arrested them when they crossed the border illegally.
Officials at the Thai and Cambodian defence ministries could not be reached for comment.
To contact the reporter on this story: Phak Seangly at [email protected]