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updated: 6/14/2014 1:26 PM

Cambodian workers in exodus home from Thailand

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Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- More than 80,000 Cambodians have fled neighboring Thailand to return home, fearing a crackdown on migrant workers under Thailand's new military government.

The governor of Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province, Kor Samsarouet, said Saturday, June 14, more than 84,000 have returned this month through the border crossing at the west Cambodian town of Poipet, including 40,000 on Friday.

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The trigger for the exodus seems to have been statements by Thailand's military government, which took power in a coup last month, that it would crack down on illegal immigrants and those employing them. Several were reportedly fired from jobs and sent home, and the belief spread that legal and illegal workers were being ejected.

The numbers of those fleeing swelled as unsubstantiated rumors circulated that several workers had been shot dead by Thai authorities.

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