District officials in Banteay Meanchey province yesterday said a local villager was shot by Thai troops Tuesday near a border crossing that Thai authorities closed this week over allegations of a stolen motorbike.
Provincial authorities, however, said the crossing was reopened by noon yesterday.
Thma Puok district deputy police chief Yort Rai said Sann Sokry, 20, was shot in the right shoulder about 1.5 km into Thailand, near the Boeung Trakuon border crossing–which he claimed had been closed since Monday–while riding his bicycle toward a Thai market.
“The victim, Sokry, was shot by Thai forces at 4 am early Tuesday morning while riding his bicycle and taking another woman across the border to work illegally…on Thai soil,” he said.
Mr Rai said the man was recovering in Cambodia at a local hospital and that his officers have since begun educating local residents on not crossing the border illegally while the gate remained closed.
“If they [Thai businessmen] need Cambodian workers, they need to inform our authorities to ensure our villagers’ safety and security and their return home,” he said.
By bilateral agreement, the Boeung Trakuon crossing closes down Saturday through Monday every week. Both Mr Rai and district governor Plek Vary, however, claimed that Thai authorities have kept the crossing closed because they alleged that Cambodians had recently stolen a motorbike belonging to a Thai village chief and smuggled it into Cambodia to sell.
“If our police cannot find [the motorbike], the Thais will close the crossing forever. That’s what the Thai authorities warned us on Saturday,” said Mr Vary.
But Mr Vary rejected the claim that a theft had occurred.
“The Thais always blame our villagers at the border of stealing from Thai villagers without grounds,” he said.
Provincial governor Ung Oeun and provincial police chief Hun Hean both said the border had reopened yesterday after they met with Thai authorities, but declined to provide further explanation.
Thai officials could not be reached for comment.