Thai border police allegedly shot and seriously wounded an RCAF soldier Friday morning after he and another soldier crossed from Battambang province into Thailand to reportedly lead three Cambodian civilians on an illegal logging expedition, Cambodian police said Sunday.
Initially reported dead by local media, 40-year-old soldier Mon Meuth was returned to Cambodia late Saturday night and remains in Battambang provincial hospital, family and police said.
The shooting occurred when Thai border police heard the five Cambodians cutting down trees 700 meters inside the Thai border with Samlot district and opened fire on them, hitting Mon Meuth in the abdomen and left shoulder, said Battambang provincial police chief Kang Sakhorn.
“They crossed the border to cut down trees illegally in Thailand, and the Thai soldiers shot at them,” Kang Sakhorn said Sunday.
Mon Meuth was left behind as the other four fled back to Cambodia, Kang Sakhorn said.
Thai border police informed Cambodian border police of the incident, he added, and the two sides negotiated for Mon Meuth’s transfer to Battambang provincial hospital.
Samlot district police chief Team Sengleu said Mon Meuth may receive jail time for the illegal logging charge, adding that district police are searching for the other RCAF soldier and the three civilians, all of whom remain at large.
A provincial official for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, In Kong Chet, said Sunday that Mon Meuth remains in critical condition.
Colonel Worapun Krarurum, assistant director of the Royal Thai Armed Forces’ Border Security Affairs Division in Bangkok, said Sunday by telephone that her office was unaware of the incident.
Thai Foreign Ministry Press Division Director Chainarong Keratiyutwong said Sunday the ministry also had no information.
Officials from the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh could not be contacted Sunday.