Police Arrest Thai Soldiers Trapping Wild Animals in Preah Vihear

Military officials in Preah Vihear province are holding a pair of Thai soldiers who were arrested well inside Cambodia on Monday while trapping wild animals, according to officials in the area.

Choam Ksan district police chief Dam Yin said the two men were arrested after local residents tipped off police to their presence. 

“We sent them to the deputy commander of [Royal Cambodian Armed Forces] Division 3 to take over this case because they are members of the Thai Army,” he said, declining further comment.

Division 3 deputy commander Phat Sophan could not be reached Thursday. Division commander General Srey Doek said he was in Phnom Penh and unaware of the case.

An RCAF colonel who took part in the arrests, and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media, identified the Thai soldiers as Phan Namphanya, 46, and Vuth Undy, 30. The colonel said the men were dressed as civilians but confessed to being soldiers and claimed they had lost their way while setting traps along the border.

District military police chief Chhour Bunsong said he received the same explanation from the Thai men. Citing a police report, Mr. Bunsong said the pair was found approximately 18 km inside of Cambodia and had spent the night prior to their arrests at a local villager’s home.

Two Thai men were arrested in the same district earlier this month carrying homemade rifles and more than 200 rounds of ammunition after they were spotted poaching. At the time, Major Bunsong said it was not uncommon for local police to arrest Thais hunting on the wrong side of the border.

A spokesman for the Thai Army could not be reached.

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