One Cambodian was shot and another was reportedly missing after Thai soldiers allegedly opened fire on 29 migrant workers who illegally crossed into Thailand from Oddar Meanchey, officials said yesterday.
The 29 workers had crossed into Thailand’s Surin province at about 11 pm Monday when Thai soldiers confronted them, said Chhim Sivuth, the Oddar Meanchey provincial chief police inspector.
“Thai soldiers opened fire on them for 15 to 20 minutes,” he said.
The Cambodian group ran back through the jungles into Oddar Meanchey and nearly all of them met with RCAF border officials Tuesday morning, he said. One of the villagers, Seb Samnang, 29, was seriously injured from a single gunshot to his torso, he said.
Of the two missing migrants, one turned himself over to officials Wednesday morning, while another, 21-year-old RCAF soldier Tith Prach, was still unaccounted for yesterday, he said.
Officials educated the rest of the migrant workers about the dangers of crossing the border illegally and will send them back to their families, Mr Sivuth added.
Pich Sokhin, the Oddar Meanchey provincial governor, said district and border police and RCAF soldiers were searching for the missing man. He said he could not recall a previous incident where Thai soldiers had fired on so many Cambodian migrants.
“It is not the first time that Thai soldiers open fired on our villagers, but not at many like this,” he said.
Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn yesterday referred questions to the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi, who could not be reached.
Koy Kuong, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said that the Cambodian consular-general in Thailand’s Sa Keo province was investigating the case.
“We always send a protest note when we get information that Cambodian people get gunshot from Thai solders, but in this case we are still waiting for information from our consular-general in Sa Keo,” he said.
Those protest notes, he said, typically called on Thai authorities to investigate the case and bring perpetrators to justice, he said.
(Additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)