Wildlife officers in gunfight with Cambodian illegal loggers in Si Sa Ket
The chief of a wildlife sanctuary in Si Sa Ket’s Phu Sing district on Wednesday inspected three seized chainsaws used by illegal loggers who were in a shootout with officers on Monday.
Sathit Phanthumart, chief of the Huay Sala Wildlife Sanctuary, visited Phu Sing police station on Wednesday.
He said his men encountered five Cambodians who were processing a large iron wood tree inside Plan forest, which is part of the sanctuary and is about 500 metres from the Cambodian border.
Sathit the team was involved in a shootout with five Cambodian loggers at noon on Monday.
The patrol team heard sounds of chainsaws during a patrol at dusk on Sunday and waited until the next morning to check.
When they went to the area on Monday they saw two Cambodian men armed with M79 grenade launchers in camouflage uniforms at 12.30pm. They also saw three other Cambodians using chainsaws to cut pieces of wood from a felled iron wood tree.
When they approached to make an arrest, the two Cambodians fired two M79 grenades at the team but they failed to explode, prompting the Thai side to return fire.
The two sides exchanged gunfire for about 20 minutes before the Cambodians retreated toward the border. None of the Thai officials were injured.
The officials seized only the chainsaws and left the area for fear of retaliation by armed loggers.
Thee wildlife officials have filed a complaint with Phu Sing police and troops. Police intend to return to the scene to check the area and seize the processed logs.