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Friday, September 18, 2009

Thailand 'lying' over boy's death, says Cambodia

Cambodia yesterday accused Thailand of lying when it denied involvement in the death of a Cambodian teenager near the border of Thailand's northeastern Surin province.

The young Cambodian was reportedly shot and burned alive as he and other Cambodian loggers tried to escape from the Thai military into Cambodia's Oddar Meanchey province.

The Second Army Region Commander Lt. General Wiboonsak Neeparn said he had checked records of all agencies under his command and found no evidence of any shooting.

"There was no such incident in the area. I wonder why Cambodia made such a report?" the commander said.

The Thai Foreign Ministry has maintained the same stance, saying the brutal incident never happened.

Ministry spokesperson Wimon Kidchob said earlier Thai soldiers fired bullets into the air after finding eight Cambodians sneaking into Thailand to cut down trees.

The denial has angered authorities in Cambodia, both in Oddar Meanchey and in Phnom Penh.

Oddar Meanchey Governor Pich Sokhin called the Thai assertion a lie. "How could our people have been injured and killed if their soldiers shot into the air?" the governor was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post.

"Their interpretation is a lie to avoid responsibility and to hide their cruelty from the public. Our people are injured and dead. How can they say they are not responsible?"

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry has sent a diplomatic note to Bangkok asking for an explanation and is still awaiting an official reply.

Phnom Penh has urged Thailand to conduct an investigation into the case and find and punish those responsible.

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