Two Cambodian men, described as RCAF soldiers wearing civilian clothes, were shot and captured Tuesday by Thai border forces after a five-minute exchange of gunfire in Oddar Meanchey province’s O’Smach commune in Samraong district, military officials said yesterday.
The two were among a group of 10 Cambodians, all of whom were reportedly soldiers in civilian clothes, who encountered a Thai border patrol while they were reportedly searching for forest “vines” in Thai territory on the border, Defense Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Chhum Sucheat said yesterday.
Oun Hoy, 40, the only member of the Cambodian group who was armed, was shot in the head and seriously injured, and Prak Doeun, 40, was shot in the stomach and also badly wounded, Mr Sucheat said, adding that the eight other Cambodians escaped back into Cambodian territory.
“The 10 soldiers had only one gun,” Mr Sucheat said, adding that the two injured men are being treated at a hospital in Thailand’s Surin province.
Warnings to civilians to not cross the Thai border have been repeatedly issued by the government, he added.
Deputy provincial governor Loeuk Sok said authorities are communicating with their Thai counterparts to ensure the return of the two men.
“We are communicating to get them back,” he said.
Mr Sok denied that the group was illegally logging on the border, saying the vines were being collected to make furniture.
On Monday, at least six Cambodian were arrested and detained by Thai border forces after crossing the border also in Oddar Meanchey province, also allegedly to collect forest vines.
Last year several Cambodians were shot and killed by Thai border rangers in the forested frontiers, some while illegally logging trees.