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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cambodia protests alleged Thai brutality at border

Cambodia sought an explanation from Thailand on Wednesday for an incident in which a Cambodian youth was allegedly shot, then burned alive by Thai paramilitary troops in a disputed border area.
Ouch Borith, a senior Cambodian Foreign Ministry official, said Thailand had yet to reply to a diplomatic letter sent Tuesday requesting an investigation into the incident.

The Cambodian letter said Thai rangers shot at a group of Cambodian villagers who were allegedly cutting down trees illegally in the border area of Oddar Meancheay Province last Friday.

It said two teenage boys from the group were badly wounded. One of them, identified as Mao Kheung, escaped, while the other, 16-year-old Yon Rith, was arrested and burned alive by Thai forces, it claimed.

"The boy was our compatriot and he has received very cruel and inhumane treatment from the Thai forces, such as should not occur in the 21st century," Ouch Borith said.

Thai foreign ministry spokeswoman Wimon Kidchob told reporters in Bangkok on Wednesday that the Cambodian villagers had crossed into Thai territory and were simply sent back.

"According to the military, there was no arrest. They were given a warning and pushed back without any incident," she said.

Ouch Borith said Cambodia officials had collected the boys remains _ a rope used to tie his hands and a pile of ashes _ from the scene of the incident.

He urged the Thai government to seriously investigate the incident and bring those responsible to justice.

Tensions going back centuries between the neighboring countries flared in 2003, when a mob burned down the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh after a Thai actress allegedly made an insulting remark. Tensions soared again last year over the disputed border territory.

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