TWO Cambodian loggers were shot and killed along the border with Thailand on Monday, the same day Foreign Minister Hor Namhong called on his Thai counterpart to address the rash of shootings of Cambodians by Thai troops along the border in recent months.
The men were shot after setting off from Oddar Meanchey province’s Trapaing Prasat district and crossing into Thailand’s Sisaket province, said Touch Ra, deputy chief of the Cambodia-Thailand Border Relations Office at the Choam Sa-Ngam border checkpoint.
“They ventured deep into Thai territory in order to log,” he said. “They were logging in the protected forest of Thailand, so it [was] quite dangerous.”
The two men who were killed were part of a group of eight who crossed into Thailand; another group of 13 loggers crossed the border the same day, four of whom were arrested by Thai authorities and later released, Touch Ra added.
On Monday, Hor Namhong met with Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya. Among other things, they discussed the shootings of Cambodian loggers by Thai border guards, and Hor Namhong said Kasit had agreed to press Thai authorities to be more lenient with Cambodian trespassers.
Monday’s incident marks the sixth shooting this year in which Cambodian loggers have been killed by Thai security forces, according to local rights group Adhoc. Last week, six Cambodian loggers who crossed from Trapaing Prasat into Thailand were injured in a shooting by Thai troops.
Touch Ra said Thai officials repatriated the corpses of the two men on Tuesday evening, along with the four loggers who had been arrested. Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said he had instructed Cambodian consular officials in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province to look into the shooting.
Officials from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not be reached yesterday.