Cambodian Logger Shot, Injured by Thai Soldiers

A Cambodian who was illegally logging rosewood across the Thai border from Oddar Mean­chey province was shot and badly injured by Thai soldiers on Sun­day, a local official said yesterday.

Thong Vanra, the 27-year-old victim from Dang Tong village in Samraong City’s Konkriel commune, was shot once in the back, village chief Sao Buntheng said. He said Mr. Vanra was among a party of 30 loggers who had en­tered Thailand illegally from Cambodia.

“According to information I received from the victim’s family, Thai soldiers shot twice into a crowd of loggers on Sunday eve­ning,” he said, adding that six of the loggers are from his village, and he had asked them to thumb­print documents stating that they would cease logging in Thailand.

“Although I repeatedly asked them not to risk their lives by illegally logging rosewood in Thai­land, they don’t listen to me,” he said, ex­plaining that the possible financial gain from logging rosewood was simply too great for some impoverished villagers to resist.

He said loggers can make be­tween $100 and $150 per logging trip.

Mr. Vanra is being treated in the provincial referral hospital after having surgery to remove the bullet from his back.

According to rights group Ad­hoc, three Cambodian loggers were shot by Thai troops in June alone, while six were arrested and four are missing.

Touch Ra, chief of the border liaison office at the Choam-Sa Ngam international checkpoint, said he had been informed about the latest border shooting, but had not received any confirmation from his Thai counterpart.

“We are sorry to hear about the shooting incidents,” he said, adding that he wants to meet Mr. Vanra to assess the severity of his injury.

In a separate incident, Mr. Ra said two loggers were arrested on Friday and are being held in Thailand for allegedly logging rosewood illegally.

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