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124 Cambodians killed in Thailand in last 6 years, many in search of luxury rosewood

Cambodia’s opposition has called for an improvement in border relations with Thailand following the shooting deaths of three alleged illegal loggers at their border.

dead cambodiansYim Sovann, the spokesman for the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), told The Anadolu Agency on Friday that efforts must be made to improve the livelihoods of people living along or near the border, to dissuade them from trying to cross illegally.

“We condemn the violence,” he said. “We want to solve the problem based on the local and international laws. We do not support violence or shooting. We are neighbouring countries. We should live in peace, cooperation and respect for the mutual interests between the two countries.”

He said improved relations on border issues is a “mutual interest” and should be “solved peacefully.”

The Cambodia Daily reported Friday that a local official in Preah Vihear province, which borders Thailand, held a forum Thursday, warning of the dangers of illegal crossings in search of luxury rosewood after the three men were shot.

The paper also said that during the forum, officials saw five men carrying a sixth wounded man away from the border area after what appeared to be a similar attempt to illegally cross into Thailand.

There were 124 Cambodians killed in Thailand between 2008 and last year, according to data collected by local rights group Adhoc.

Last month, tensions mounted after two badly burned bodies were discovered at the border. After a forensic examination on the bodies by Thai authorities, it was announced that the bodies were Thai.

It was reported by the Phnom Penh Post on Friday that the CNRP sent a letter to Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday, condemning the deaths and calling for an independent investigation.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan referred questions to Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong and Interior Ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak, though neither could be reached by AA.

However, in a report by the Phnom Penh Post on Friday, Mr Kuong was quoted as saying that it is the government’s policy to send “strongly worded” communications each time Cambodians are maimed or killed by Thai soldiers in the border region.

His remarks come after high-level talks were held in Cambodia by delegations from both countries last month.

At the time, Mr Kuong told AA that the Cambodian government called for the use of a “legal process” to deal with illegal loggers, instead of the use of lethal weapons.

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