Six Cambodian naval policemen have been arrested and detained by Thai naval police in waters close to the Thai-Cambodian border at Koh Kong, Cambodian and Thai naval sources said Monday.
But the officials from each of the neighboring countries gave differing accounts of how the men ended up in Thai custody.
The Cambodians were arrested east of the Thai island of Kho Khud last week after allegedly stealing two Thai fishing boats and kidnapping crew members, a Thai navy source told Agence France-Presse on Monday.
Three men were arrested Tuesday and another three, who fled the scene, were tracked down and caught Wednesday, the source said.
Sreng Sary, chief of Cambodian water control navy units, said Kho Khud-based naval police arrested the six June 14 and were still holding them.
Before the arrest by the Thai authorities, he said, the Cambodian naval police seized a Thai fishing fleet allegedly entering Cambodian waters to trawl.
The four Thai boats were stopped by the Cambodian police, who seized and boarded the vessels, he said. Next, a Thai naval police gun boat equipped with an automatic firearm appeared and arrested the six Cambodian authorities on suspicion of piracy.
“There were six policemen in the Thai fishing trawler when the Thai gun boat seized it back,” Sreng Sary said. He said he believed the Thais were mistaken in making the arrest.
“I don’t think the six policemen did anything wrong,” he said. “They should be free, but it is still difficult because the Thais say we made a mistake, and we say they made a mistake.”
But he added that such encounters were commonplace in the disputed border waters, averaging about one a week.
Foreign Ministry Secretary of State Uch Kim An said Monday he had not yet received a report of the incident, but said he would seek a meeting with the Thais to discuss it.
Thai consular officials contacted Monday also said they were unaware of the arrests.