Thai Army Says It’s Too Early to Lay Blame for Loggers’ Deaths

Thailand’s army has asked Cambodia “not to jump [to] the conclusion” that its soldiers were to blame for the deaths of three Cambodian loggers who were shot dead earlier this month while searching for rosewood across the border, according to Thai media.

Thai Army spokesman Winthai Suwaree called the deaths of the three men “inconclusive” and said that authorities in the country were still investigating the case, the Bangkok Post reported Tuesday.

The newspaper said that Mr. Winthai made the comments in response to an angry letter sent by Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh that says Thailand’s actions “violated the most elementary laws of any civilized country and the international law on human rights.”

Contacted by telephone Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said there was no doubt that the three loggers—who Cambodian police said were fired upon on February 5 after crossing illegally into Thailand from Preah Vihear province—were killed by Thai troops.

“We are sure that our people were shot dead by Thai soldiers,” he said. “We have witnesses who escaped from the shoot-out who can confirm it.”

During an earlier press conference Wednesday, Mr. Kuong also said Thailand had yet to respond to the ministry’s request that their bodies be sent back to Cambodia.

“If the Thai side believes their soldiers are not involved with the shooting, they should investigate and find the ones responsible,” he told reporters.

Thai police spokesman Prawut Thawornsiri said Wednesday that he did not have any details on the case.

Last month, the Interior Ministry reported that 11 Cambodians had been killed and 34 injured in 16 separate shooting incidents along the Thai border in 2014. Adhoc, which also monitors shootings along the border, recorded 26 deaths and 18 injuries during the same period.

(Additional reporting by Taisa Sganzerla)

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