Thai Soldiers Shot Border Crossers, Police Say

A 24-year-old Cambodian wom­an and her two-month-old baby were shot and killed, apparently by Thai soldiers, while illegally crossing the border be­tween Cambodia and Thai­land, police said Wednesday.

Thai Embassy officials said they knew nothing about the incident, but that if people were illegally crossing the border, they were probably doing so in order  to create trouble.

Sou Sovann, the penal police chief for Banteay Meanchey province, said Thai soldiers have been trying to deter Cambodians from sneaking across the border by firing at them.

He said Vann Touch and her baby were among a dozen villagers trying to sneak across the border in Malai district when they were shot in the early morning hours of Nov 14.

A worker with the human rights organization Adhoc, who did not want to be named, said the villagers ran into a spray of automatic weapons fire at about 1:30 am. Vann Touch was shot three times; the baby once. None of the other villagers were hurt, the worker said.

Vann Touch, who came from a village in the Banaan district of Battambang province, was trying to sneak across the border for the first time, the worker said. The others also came from districts in Battambang and Banteay Mean­chey provinces and were hoping to find work in the Aranch district of Thailand.

Sou Sovann said the villagers tried to cross into Thailand because they could not find work in Poipet commune, near the Thai border. If they get into Thailand, they can earn as much as $1.75 per day as farm workers.

He said the Thai soldiers tried to stop them for fear they will “create trouble” in Thailand.

The Adhoc worker said that Cambodian officials in Banteay Meanchey and their counterparts across the border in the Thai province of Sras Kao are discussing an agreement to allow workers to cross the border, but no deal has been reached yet.

Sou Sovann noted that a Cam­bo­dian policeman was killed by a Thai soldier last November. The soldier accused the policeman of being a robber.

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