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Thai Answers Sought in Border Shootings

A Ministry of Interior provincial border official asked Thai authorities on Friday to begin an investigation into the shooting deaths of two Cambodians, including one child, Thursday afternoon.

Tim Sareth, deputy director of the Ministry of Interior's Cambodia-Thai coordination office, told VOA Khmer by phone he was traveling to Thailand late Friday and had already requested an investigation into an alleged shooting near a border crossing in Bantey Meanchey province's O'Chhouv district.

Cambodians It On, 25, and Chea Phal, 6, were allegedly shot Thursday afternoon on the Thai side of the border, Tim Sereth said, but he would not speculate on who committed the shooting.

Thai Embassy First Secretary Chaturont Chaiyakam said Friday he did not have the details of the case, but he did not believe the Thai authorities would shoot unarmed civilians.

The shooting deaths were confirmed by O'Chhouv District Governor Keo Sen, who said Friday he was taking reports from witnesses to file a complaint with Thai border authorities.

The witnesses identified the shooter as a Thai border patrolman, he said.

Witnesses It En, sister of It On; Meas Thourn; and Muon An said they crossed the border Thursday afternoon, where they encountered an armed official who wore the black uniform of Thailand's border patrol and spoke Khmer Sarin with a Thai accent.

They were part of a group of 12 people who regularly travel across the border to farm, the witnesses told VOA Khmer by phone Friday.

The witnesses said they were ordered to return to Cambodia and had walked 50 meters toward Cambodia, before the armed man opened fire.

It On was hit in the arm and back and died almost immediately, and Chea Phal was hit in the head, but did not die, the witnesses said.

Chea Phal was taken to O'Chhouv referral hospital, where he died, witnesses said.

Suth Kimsan, acting director of the O'Chhouv hospital, confirmed Chea Phal died at the hospital from a gunshot wound to the head. Hospital staff treated him for one hour before he died, Suth Kimsan.

Tim Sareth said Friday he will coordinate with the Cambodian ambassador to Thailand and with Thai border authorities to conduct an investigation.