Armed Thai security forces killed three illegal loggers and burned their corpses last Wednesday, according to a district governor in Preah Vihear province, who said the Thai military had confirmed the deaths yesterday.
Sok Hai, governor of Choam Ksan district, said Thai armed forces killed the three illegal loggers on Wednesday after they crossed the border to fell valuable rosewood in the area, burning their bodies in the forest.
“The Thai military confirmed to us that they shot three [Cambodians] who tried to cross the border [on Wednesday] to illegally log timber, then set fire to them,” he said.
He added that the Thais had denied accusations made on Friday by Cambodian officials that another 12 loggers were killed on March 5.
But he said he believed the Thais were withholding information about the killings from the Cambodian authorities.
“They have tried to hide information about the number of people who have illegally crossed the border,” he said.
Major General Prawit Hookaew, a spokesman for the Thai military, could not be reached for comment.
Cambodian loggers are regularly caught by Thai authorities while attempting to smuggle rosewood into Cambodia, where it is then transported on to Vietnam and China.
The Ministry of Interior said last month that at least 69 Cambodians were shot dead by Thai forces last year. Local rights group Adhoc maintains a more conservative figure of 30 deaths.
The announcement by the Cambodian military on Friday that 12 people were killed on March 5 has caused the lines of communication between the two sides to break down, Hai said.
Chan Soveth, a senior monitor for rights group Adhoc, said the Thais had largely stopped responding to enquiries from Cambodia over the shootings.
“We are [having] difficulties talking with the Cambodian authorities, they provide just a little [information],” he said yesterday. “The Thais accused [the loggers] of having weapons, guns, knives.
“There are no [ongoing] negotiations. After [the shootings], they went to investigate. Some evidence was lost. And the people [in Thailand] are afraid of the local authorities. So they are not providing any more information to Cambodia.”