After Thai soldiers last week shot and killed three Cambodians who entered Thailand to log luxury-grade rosewood, a district governor in Preah Vihear province thought it would be an appropriate time to warn locals of the dangers of crossing the border.
“[On Thursday], we held a public forum about how they risk their lives illegally crossing the border in the Thai forest,” said Chea Kimseng, the governor of Choam Ksan district, which borders Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province.
But as the forum in Choam Ksan commune’s Chhoeu Tel Kong village got underway, local police informed him that they had just seen five men carrying an injured sixth man fleeing from the Thai border, Mr. Kimseng said.
“Five men with an injured victim escaped from Thai gunfire at 4 p.m.,” he said, adding that police told him that the group had crossed into Thailand in search of rosewood on Sunday.
The governor identified the injured man as In Toch, 28, whom he said had been shot once in the back and once in the side.
“He is a villager from Choam [Ksan] commune,” he said. “His relatives sent him to the Siem Reap City referral hospital.”
Mere hours after that group’s arrival, a 23-year-old man stumbled into the village having narrowly escaped from Thai soldiers, Mr. Kimseng said, adding that he did not ask the young man for his name.
The governor said he personally interviewed the man, who told him that he and 14 other people from Kampot province had entered Thailand on Monday seeking rosewood.
The man told him that Thai soldiers spotted the group, however, and opened fire. As the man escaped, the 14 others were arrested, he said.
“Now we have taken him to our police station to get more details on how they snuck into the Thai forest and who organized it for them,” he said.
On Wednesday, officials in Preah Vihear said Thai soldiers shot and killed three Cambodian loggers and injured a fourth last week. The injured man and one of those who died were from Chhoeu Tel Kong village, Mr. Kimseng said at the time.
On Thursday, the governor said police would search the district today for anyone trying to cross the border, stop them and send them back home.
“This is disturbing our village too much,” he said.