Two Cambodians were killed on Friday in separate gun battles between Thai soldiers and illegal loggers, one of which involved Cambodian soldiers, an official said yesterday.
Chan Chhorn, an information officer for the Preah Vihear National Authority, told the Post yesterday that in the first incident, four loggers supported by armed RCAF soldiers illegally crossed the porous, forested border into Thailand for logging activities.
The group came into contact with a Thai military border patrol unit about 2pm that day and the two sides briefly exchanged fire.
“Both sides reported injuries during the firing, and one Cambodian logger was wounded in the rear, then arrested by the Thai soldiers,” Chhorn said.
The incident had taken place several kilometres west of the Preah Vihear temple, outside the provisional demilitarised zone, he said.
In a separate incident, a group of eight villagers crossing the border on the northern side of the Preah Vihear temple about 10pm on Friday faced off with Thai troops.
The Thai border guards allegedly opened fire, killing two of the loggers. Their bodies were taken to the capital of the Thai border province of Sisaket.
“Thai authorities have sent pictures of the corpses to the Cambodian side for verifying their identities,” Chhorn said, adding Thai soldiers claimed the group were nearly two kil-ometres inside Thailand.
Major General Phat Sophen, deputy commander of Military Division 3, told the Post yesterday relatives of the victims had contacted his office to repatriate the bodies for funeral ceremonies.
Moun Nga, a military officer at Preah Vihear, said he had not received detailed information about the clashes but Cambodia was investigating how many Cambodian soldiers accompanied the loggers and became involved in the clash.
“Thailand has sent up the report, but we need translat-ion,” he said, adding that the Cambodian logger wounded and arrested by Thai soldiers would face the Thai law on forest destruction.
Cambodian loggers take great risks to enter Thailand.
According to the six-month report of the Cambodian-Thai Border Relations Office, 38 Cambodians were shot dead in the first semester of this year.
To contact the reporter on this story: Cheang Sokha at [email protected]