Mother, Daughter Drown After Border Crossing

The bodies of a mother and her daughter, who drowned in a pond after illegally crossing into Thailand from Banteay Meanchey province on Thursday, were returned to their family by Thai authorities yesterday, a Cambodian border official said.

Muon Saroeurn, 54, and her 13-year-old daughter, Soeurn Chan­trea, died while trying to run away from Thai soldiers after a truck they were traveling in with about 20 illegal Cambodian migrant workers was stopped at a Thai military checkpoint, said Dy Phan, director of the Cambodian-Thai border communication office.

“Thai soldiers were chasing them and firing their guns in the air, causing them to run into a pond and drown in 3 meters of water at about 8 pm” Thursday, Mr Phan said, adding that the bodies were handed back to family members yesterday morning.

Mr Phan said another woman, Taing Malay, 25, and her 5-year-old daughter were saved by Thai soldiers before they drowned in the pond and were sent back to Cam­bodia on Saturday. A further 16 Cam­bodians who managed to escape from the Thai soldiers on Thursday night were still at large, he said.

Mr Phan said that, on average, Thai authorities sent 200 to 300 illegal Cambodian migrant workers back through the Poipet international border crossing every day, add­ing that police were constantly trying to track down the ringleaders of the human-trafficking operations.

In a separate case, the body of a 29-year-old man was also handed back to Cambodian authorities at Poipet yesterday after he was stabbed to death on Saturday in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province by a man who has since been arrested by Thai police, Mr Phan said.

Officials at Thailand’s Foreign and Interior ministries were unavailable.

Soum Chankea, Banteay Mean­chey provincial coordinator for the human rights group Adhoc, said yesterday that seven Cambodians had died or been killed while at­tempting to illegally cross into Thailand from Banteay Meanchey this year.

“We are very concerned with these cases where our Cambodian people, who are going to work in Thailand, are dying one by one for different reasons,” Mr Chankea said.

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