Ministry Investigating Reports of Gunfight in Thailand

The Foreign Affairs Ministry is looking into a Thai media report that seven Cambodian illegal loggers were involved in a gunfight with Thai soldiers Thursday that culminated in one Cambodian suffering serious injuries and all of the suspects being arrested, a ministry spokesman said.

Chum Sounry, the spokesman, said on the sidelines of a meeting at the ministry in Phnom Penh that he had asked the Cambodian consul-general in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province, Neth Sary, to investigate the reports.

“We appeal to the people to stop sneaking into Thai forests illegally,” Mr. Sounry added.

“We have asked the Thai authorities again and again to stop shooting our people and arrest them alive.”

Mr. Sary could not be reached Thursday. According to an article posted to the Bangkok Post’s website on Wednesday evening, the seven Cambodians told police that they were from Battambang province and were hired by a Thai businessman to fell rosewood trees.

The article said the seven were part of a group of 20 that soldiers found walking through the Phayayen Forest Complex. When the soldiers asked them to stop for an inspection, some members of the group opened fire and a five-minute gun battle ensued, it said.

Most of them escaped, but seven Cambodians were detained, it added.

“One of them, identified only as Piak, was badly wounded after being shot in the stomach,” the Bangkok Post reported.

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