Cambodia and Thailand in new armed clashes over temple site


Published Date: 04 April 2009
By Sopheng Cheang in Phnom Penh

THAI and Cambodian soldiers traded machinegun and rocket fire along their disputed border yesterday, leaving up to four dead, as a long-standing feud over an 11th-century temple escalated.
The Cambodian government said four Thai soldiers had been killed and ten captured during the clashes, but Thailand’s foreign ministry insisted only one of its troops had been killed and none taken prisoner.

The fighting is the latest flare-up neaADVERTISEMENTr the cliff-top Preah Vihear temple, which is on the Cambodian side of an ill- defined border that has been a source of conflict for decades. Two clashes last year sparked brief concerns of war.

The two countries have long had competing claims to land surrounding the temple, which the World Court awarded to Cambodia in 1962. Tensions flared last July after Unesco, the UN cultural agency, approved Cambodia’s bid to have the temple named a World Heritage Site. Both sides deployed troops.

In the first round of yesterday’s fighting, Cambodian forces fired on some 60 Thai soldiers who entered Cambodian territory, sparking a battle that lasted about ten minutes, according to Yim Kheang, a Cambodian soldier at the border.

The Thai foreign ministry said the clash started when their soldiers arrived to investigate the site where one of their colleagues had his leg blown off by a land mine on Thursday. As they approached the area, Cambodian soldiers opened fire, he said.

Thai defence minister Prawit Wongsuwan downplayed the clash. “It was an accident, a misunderstanding among officials on the ground, which is common when you are closely positioned,” he told reporters.

In the second clash, Cambodians said Thai soldiers shot rocket-propelled grenades into their territory. Thailand denied the allegation.

source: http://news.scotsman.com/world/Cambodia-and-Thailand-in-new.5141626.jp

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