Two men were shot and injured by Thai soldiers on Saturday while illegally logging rosewood across the border from Preah Vihear province.
“Two people were shot and injured by Thai border soldiers,” said Preah Vihear province’s RCAF commander Som Bopharath, adding that his soldiers were looking for the two men who are currently believed to be in hiding from authorities.
Lor Chan, coordinator for local human rights group Adhoc, said that 25-year-old Khun Ron was shot in his abdomen while Chon Khoeun, 33, was shot in his right thigh.
“They snuck across the border and into the Thai forests to log rosewood,” Mr. Chan said, adding that the two men had come from Kampot province.
The luxury wood is in high demand in China, but is almost extinct in Cambodia from over-logging, leading Cambodians to risk their lives searching for the timber across the border.
At least two Cambodians have been killed so far this year after making the dangerous crossing to Thailand, Mr. Chan said. Last year, 45 Cambodians were killed by Thai border forces while attempting to log rosewood in Thailand.
Though species of rosewood are protected in Cambodia, between 2007 and 2012, China recorded imports of 36,000 cubic meters of rosewood from Cambodia, which is used to make furniture worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
To stop the illegal trade, Prime Minister Hun Sen last month issued a directive specifically outlawing both the logging and selling of rosewood.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered us to ban all activities involving rosewood, and to stop villagers from crossing the border illegally,” said provincial police chief Sy Kiry.
Police, he added, had warned residents repeatedly and educated them about the ban, instructing them not to cross into Thai territory.
“We held meetings, again and again, but these victims are from Kampot province,” Mr. Kiry said.