Thai border police allegedly shot and killed two Cambodians Saturday in a disputed border area near O’Smach commune, Oddar Meanchey province in what could be the second incident this month of Thai authorities shooting Cambodians.
The sole witness to the shooting could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but two officials in Oddar Meanchey province said Thai border police shot and killed two Cambodians who were gathering ingredients for traditional medicines and also shot at a third man, who escaped and reported the incident.
“The Thais really did this and killed the Cambodians,” said O’Smach village chief Chee Vin, who has sent a full report on the incident to Oddar Meanchey provincial authorities. “It was a cruel act by the Thais and they cannot claim they did not do this.”
Two Thai embassy officials Wednesday declined to comment on the shooting allegations, saying that they had not heard of the incident.
The two men killed—identified as “Hong” and Long Nam—were collecting medicinal roots and wood for building houses with a third man, Yan Pao, when they came across several Thai police, Chee Vin said.
The Thai border police, who were standing approximately seven meters from the Cambodians, opened fire and shot to death Hong and Long Nam, Chee Vin said.
Yan Pao, who was not shot, ran from the scene to O‘Smach commune, where he reported the shooting to authorities, the village chief said.
O’Smach authorities found no bodies when they went to investigate the scene of the alleged shooting on Saturday. Chee Vin said Thai authorities contacted him later that day and told him they would return the bodies to Cambodia the next day.
Thai authorities returned the bodies to the victims’ families on Sunday at around 2 pm, he said.
Suon Lorn, military police commander for the O’Smach border checkpoint, also said that Thai border police shot the two men. He added that Thai border authorities told him that they acknowledged the incident and will try to take the individuals responsible for the shooting to a Thai court. This could not be confirmed on Wednesday.
Suon Lorn said police conducted an autopsy on the bodies of Hong and Long Nam and found that each man had been shot twice. One corpse had what looked to be bruises and a knife wound on the right arm.
Var Kim Hong, director of the Council of Ministers Joint Border Committee, said he had only heard of the incident through newspaper reports and had not received information from the Ministry of Interior, which would be the first ministry to investigate the case.
An Interior Ministry official, who declined to be named, said the ministry had not yet received any official reports from Oddar Meanchey authorities and therefore couldn’t make a comment. The official added that the Ministry of Interior had not discussed the alleged shooting with Thai authorities.
The alleged O’Smach shooting comes less than a month after Thai border police in Thmar Pouk district, Banteay Meanchey province were accused of shooting a Cambodian who was illegally crossing the border.