Thai soldiers shot and seriously injured at least four illegal loggers who crossed into Thailand from Oddar Meanchey province’s Trapaing Prasat district last week, a rights worker said Sunday.
A group of about 10 loggers were searching for luxury rosewood across the border in Thailand’s Sisaket province on Thursday night when the soldiers discovered them and began shooting, according to Srey Narin, a monitor for rights group Adhoc in Oddar Meanchey.
Four of them—Kan Koeun, 34; Al Borey, 35; Sok Moeun, 21, and a man who identified himself only as Pann—made their way to the hospital in Anlong Veng district, while the fifth, Chhun Las, 35, is missing, Mr. Narin said.
“I went to meet them at the Anlong Veng referral hospital [on Friday] while they were receiving medical treatment and got the report from them,” Mr. Narin said, adding that some of the loggers were shot multiple times.
“Villagers continue to sneak into the Thai forest to cut rosewood because the [Cambodian] border soldiers…allow them across if they pay bribes,” Mr. Narin said, adding that middlemen stationed near the border encourage poor villagers to risk their life for the valuable timber.
Brigadier General Nuon Nov, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ region 4, said Sunday that it was impossible to know who shot the loggers, as the incident took place in Thailand, adding that Thai farmers could also be to blame.
“The shooting occurred in the Thai forest, so we don’t know what happened to them,” he said. “We found them injured only after they fled from the Thai forest.”
Brig. Gen. Nov said that his forces patrol the area every day, but are unable to stay overnight due to the steep terrain along the border.
“We cannot be stationed there day and night to stop illegal crossing because there is no water supply for our soldiers, who bring just a packet of rice and water [to the border] in the morning and return to the base in the evening,” he said.