Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Thai soldiers surrender amid gunfire

A Cambodian soldier near Preah Vihear temple(Photo: Reuters)

Radio France International (RFI)
2008-10-15

Ten Thai soldiers have surrendered to Cambodian troops in disputed territory near the Preah Vihear Buddhist temple, according to eyewitness reports. Bangkok sent tanks and other reinforcements to the area, where sporadic gunfire continues, after attempts to resolve the standoff fell apart Monday.

Brigadier Hom Sam Ol told the French news agency AFP that the ten Thai soldiers have been detained and restrained at a pagoda near the temple.

Earlier, Brigadier Bun Thean said that the two sides had exchanged gunfire and there are unconfirmed reports of injuries on both sides.

Thai officials describe the fighting as "small-scale" and say that they are trying to contain it but they are believed to be evacuating civilians from the area.

On Wednesday, Thai televison showed military trucks loaded with tanks heading for the border and troops setting up mortars. The airforce said that jet-fighters are on standby and that transport planes are ready to evacuate Thai nationals from Cambodia.

The dispute has flared up several times since July. Talks on Monday failed to calm tempers and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen issued an ultimatum to Bangkok to withdraw 80 Thai soldiers or risk conflict. The soldiers, he claimed, had entered a disputed area.

Cambodia - News : fighting in Preah Vihear - 15.10.2008

Picture from Preah Vihear: Thai army





Thai, Cambodian military postpone border dispute meeting


BANGKOK, Oct 15 (TNA) – Thai and Cambodian authorities have postponed an operational level meeting from Wednesday to Thursday, and tensions at the border near Preah Vihear temple has slightly eased, Lt-Gen. Wiboonsak Neepal, 2nd Army Area Commander said Wednesday.

Gen. Viboonsak, the regional army commander for the northeast told Modernine TV that the meeting to be held at the operational level Thursday near the disputed temple will discuss troop deployments by the two countries for the satisfaction of both sides to avoid any problem that might occur.

Information discussed will be presented to a higher level meeting, he said, while reaffirming the Thai military's policy to continue a presence in all of Thailand's border areas.

The border tension escalated on Tuesday following Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's ultimatum to Thailand to withdraw its troops from a disputed area near the ancient Khmer Preah Vihear temple by midday Tuesday.

While Cambodia said Thai troops had retreated ahead of the deadline, the Thai side denied that any troops had been pulled back.

Villagers in seven villages in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district have been prepared for possible evacuation if the border tension develops into military action.

In nearby Surin province, also bordering Cambodia, Cambodian troops were deployed to border areas near Ta Muen Thom and Ta Kwai temples. Thai troops are stationed at Ta Muen Thom, which remains open for tourists and unarmed Cambodian soldiers.

Thai and Cambodian travellers are still at Surin's Chong Jom border pass in Surin but some Cambodian traders closed their shops and returned their goods across the border. However, all shops in Cambodian's Orsamet are closed.

Meanwhile, the two Thai-Cambodian border markets in Chanthaburi's Soi Dao district are quiet with few Cambodian traders. Chairman of the local entrepreneurs club at the Thai- Cambodian border in Chanthaburi Sombat Chuengtrakul admitted the border dispute and negative rumours about it had caused more than half the two markets' shops, stalls and kiosks to close.

However, the atmosphere at the Thai-Cambodian border of Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet district was normal after the border crossing opened at 7am. As on any day, many Cambodian traders from Poipet were waiting to step into Thailand to do business at Rong Klua market. (TNA)

Thai troops wounded in clash with Cambodia - Army spokesman

By The Nation

One Cambodian soldier killed a clash : Thai Army spokesman

Four Thai troops were injured during a clash with Cambodian troops along Thai-Cambodia border on Wednesday, Army spokesman Sansern Kaeowkamnerd said.One Khmer soldier was killed during the clashes.

The Thai troops were suffered from sharpnels of explosives and were rushed to a hospital in Si Sa Kaet province.

They were injured in one of two clashes with Cambodia at Pa Mo I Daeng in Si Sa Ket province. Another clash Phu Ma Khur caused no casualty.They were first casualties of the Thai-Cambodia border conflicts which were flared up after Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen issued an ultimatum to open war if Thai troops were not withdrawn from the disputed area near the temple.

However his ultimatum was shot down as the Thai army vowed to remain troops.

Sound of gunshots heard along Thai-Cambodia border

By The Nation

Sound of several gunshots were heard near the disputed area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on the ThaiCambodia border in Si Sa Ket province at about 2.45pm.

The area is in the heart of border tension between Thailand and Cambodia which was flared up after Cambodia's premier Hun Sen threatened to open war if Thai troops were not withdrawn from the area.

It is still unclear who fired first shot but Thai officials said that the shots were fired from the Khmer side.

Both Thai and Cambodian troops were deployed along the border in Si Sa Ket following Hun Sen's threats. The Thai army vowed to retaliate if attacked.

Meanwhile Army Commander in Chief Gen Anupong Paochinda has instructed Thai troops along the border with Cambodia to be on high alert and to retaliate if attacked.

Second Army Region Commander Lt Gen Wibunsak Neeparn said Anupong telephoned to him and ordered Thai troops along the border to be ready if attacked.

"Gen Anupong ordered the Thai troops to retaliate if Cambodian side opened the attacks," Wibunsak said Wednesday.

Wibunsak said he assigned Maj Gen Kanok Netrakawesana, commander of Suranaree Task Force to meet with the Khmer side Thursday in a bid to find ways to ease the tensions.

Thai Air Force also went on high alert, placing the jetfighters on standby.

Meanwhile authorities have warned people to stay away from the border with Cambodia in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district in case fighting should break out.

Villagers have been advised to stay at home, to make merit at their temples, to check their underground shelters and to have belongings packed should they need to evacuate.

Despite the warnings, people in provinces along the ThaiCambodia border still flocked to give foods to monks on Wednesday in a ceremony to mark the Buddhist Lent which fall on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, AFP reported that ten Cambodian soldiers surrendered to Thai troops amid sporadic gunfire.

An AFP photographer observed the 10 soldiers stationed at a pagoda in disputed territory near ancient Preah Vihear temple raise their hands in surrender to Thai troops, as gunfire could be heard in the area.

Thailand and Cambodia exchange fire over disputed border

Machine gun and rocket fire has broken out between Thai and Cambodian soldiers confronting each other over an eleventh century temple on their disputed border.

Telegraph.co.uk
15 Oct 2008

"Cambodian and Thai troops are opening fire at each other now," Brigadier Bun Thean said from the scene.

"Our troops prevented Thai troops from entering our territory, but they started to open fire at our troops right away," he said, adding there was "heavy gunfire" at two areas near the Preah Vihear temple.

"I heard gunfire all over the place in this area," said Chor Sokunthea, a photographer from Reuters. "One rocket flew from Thailand over my head and landed. Now you can hear the fighting. They've opened fire. I have to find a safe place to hide."

Thai officials represented the violence as “small scale” and isolated.

Both sides accused the other of shooting first.

But following the outbreak of fighting Thai foreign minister Sompong Amornvivat advised all nationals to leave Cambodia.

Ten Cambodian soldiers inside the disputed territory reportedly surrendered to Thai troops.
At the centre of the deadly confrontation is 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrubby forest. Above it on the ridge which forms the border between the two countries stands the ruined Hindu temple of Preah Vihear, which the International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 belongs to Cambodia.

That decision still upsets most Thais, and both countries still claim the tiny plot of land next to the ruin. The area was heavily militarized in July, when both sides rushed troops and artillery to the area.

Tensions escalated on Monday when the Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen accused Thailand of having its soldiers on Cambodian territory. He gave them 24 hours to withdraw, threatening he would turn the area into a “death zone” if they failed to do so.

Thailand meanwhile insisted it had not violated Cambodian territory and sent re-enforcements to the area in case Cambodia attacked. Thai television showed images of tanks heading to the area while the air force put its fighter jets on standby.

C-130 transport planes are also on standby at a base in the capital, Bangkok, to evacuate Thais living in the border area "if the tension escalates to a military confrontation," Thai air force official Group Capt. Montol Satchukorn said.

According to Cambodian officials, around 500 Thai troops were massing at the disputed patch of land near the Preah Vihear temple. Thailand refused to confirm its troop strength but said Cambodia had also sent reinforcements.

There was a smaller outbreak of shooting on October 3, when 1 Cambodian and two Thai soldiers were injured.

Cambodian, Thai soldiers clash at disputed border

The Earth Times

Wed, 15 Oct 2008 08:54:19 GMT
Author : DPA

Bangkok - Cambodian soldiers fired on Thai soldiers, wounding two, Wednesday afternoon along the disputed border, according to Thai TV reports from the area. The Cambodian side opened fire at 2:25 pm and allegedly injured two Thai soldiers, according to the reports, which have not been confirmed by the Thai Foreign Ministry or the army.

The incident reportedly occurred 3 kilometres away from Phreah Vihear, an 11th century Hindu temple that has been the cause of many border disputes between the two neighbouring countries for almost five decades.

A similar clash occurred at the same site on October 3 that left two Thai soldiers and one Cambodian wounded. Thailand issued an official protest to the Cambodian government over the alleged border incursion.

Thai residents along the border have been told to evacuate in case of an escalation in the fighting, according to local media reports.

Thailand and Cambodia nearly came to blows over the Preah Vihear temple in July, shortly after UNESCO named the ancient Hindu temple a World Heritage Site despite Thai objections.

The temple, the object of disputed claims between Thailand and Cambodia since the 1950s, was granted to Cambodia by a ruling of the International Court of Justice in 1962.

But land adjacent to the temple compound, including its main entrance on the Thai side, has been claimed by both countries.

Both sides beefed up their troops in the area, situated about 400 kilometres north-east of Bangkok, after some ultra-nationalist Thais crossed into the disputed zone in a protest against the UNESCO ruling.

The border conflict was calmed in August when both sides agreed to settle the matter through bilateral talks held by a joint border committee.

The talks have been hampered by repeated claims of incursions into Cambodian territory and by Thailand's chaotic domestic political situation.

Gunfire at the border

BangkokPost.com

Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat urged Thai nationals in Cambodia to leave for home immediately after a Wednesday afternoon military battle along the disputed border.

"Thai businessmen who have no need to be in Cambodia now, please rush back to Thailand," Sompong told reporters.

"We have our evacuation plan ready," he added.

His statement came after troops reportedly exchanged gun fire for about 10 minutes at the border of Kantalak district, Si Sa Ket province at around 2.30pm.

Cambodia’s Preah Vihear governor Prieb Tan claimed that Thailand started shooting at the Cambodian army first. Thai army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd, said only that the army was verifying information and would hold a press conference later on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Col Sansern reiterated that Thailand would not shoot first, but warned that Thai troops were ready if Cambodian forces encroach into Thailand. The Thai army is ready to confront any incident to protect the country’s sovereignty, he said.

Meanwhile, Thailand put air force fighter jets and C-130 transport planes on alert. The C-130s have been used in a previous operation to bring Thais back home from Phnom Penh.

"Normally we have fighter jets on stand-by at various regional headquarters ready for operation within five minutes, but under the current circumstances we have increased our readiness," Grp Capt Montol Suchookorn was quoted by the AFP news agency.

"I do hope the use of force is the last resort,"

Fighting breaks out at Thai-Cambodia border

In this July 18, 2008, file photo Thai soldiers walk from Thai border to a Cambodian Buddhist temple where Thai soldiers have occupied temple near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. A Cambodian army official says on Tuesday October 14, 2008, Thai troops have retreated from a disputed border zone ahead of a noon deadline issued by Cambodia's prime minister. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith, FILE) (Heng Sinith - AP)


By KER MUNTHIT
The Associated Press
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- A gunfight broke out between Thai and Cambodian troops at a disputed border zone Wednesday, escalating a conflict that officials from both sides fear could result in a war between the neighbors.

It was not immediately clear how many troops were engaged in the gunbattle and if there were any fatalities.

"Fighting is going on," said Maj. Prum Saroeun, a Cambodian police official. "Soldiers in the field say that Thai troops fired first and our troops fired back."

Thailand's army spokesman Sansern Kaewkumnerd said Cambodian troops fired the first shot.

The clash came a day after Cambodia's prime minister issued an ultimatum to Thailand to pull back its soldiers from disputed territory near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

Earlier Wednesday, Thailand put jet fighters on alert at air force bases nationwide and C-130 transport planes on standby at a base in the capital, Bangkok, to evacuate Thais living in the border area "if the tension escalates to a military confrontation," Thai air force official Group Capt. Montol Satchukorn said.

Cambodia's deputy defense minister, Gen. Neang Phat declined to say how many Cambodian troops had been deployed in the area.

The conflict is the latest flare-up in a decades-long dispute over a contested stretch of jungle near the Preah Vihear temple. The World Court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but sovereignty over some surrounding land has never been clearly resolved.

Tensions flared July 15 after UNESCO, the U.N. agency, approved Cambodia's bid to have the Preah Vihear temple named a World Heritage Site, leading some in Thailand to fear that its claims over the nearby land would be undermined.

Cambodia deployed about 800 troops to the border after the UNESCO decision, and Thailand sent some 400 soldiers. Both sides pulled back most of their troops in late August, but passions flared again recently.

A brief gunfight broke out between the sides earlier this month, with one Cambodian and two Thai soldiers wounded. Both sides claimed the other fired first and blamed each other for being on the wrong side of the border. Three days later, two Thai soldiers lost legs when they stepped on land mines in the area.
___

Associated Press Writers Jocelyn Gecker and Ambika Ahuja in Bangkok, Thailand contributed to this report.

Thai troops ordered to retaliate : Gen Anupong

By The Nation

Army Commander in Chief Gen Anupong Paochinda has assigned Thai troops along the border with Cambodia to be on high alert and to retaliate if attacked.

Second Army Region Commander Lt Gen Wibunsak Neeparn said Anupong telephoned to him and ordered Thai troops along the border to be ready if attacked.

"Gen Anupong ordered the Thai troops to retaliate if Cambodian side opened the attacks," Wibunsak said Wednesday.

Border tensions between Thailand and Cambodia have flared up this week after Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen issued an ultimatum for Thailand to withdraw Thai troopers from an area new Preah Vihear temple.

However Bangkok refused to withdraw the troops, saying most of the troopers were de-miners.

Wibunsak said he assigned Maj Gen Kanok Netrakawesana, commander of Suranaree Task Force to meet with the Khmer side on Thursday in a bid to find ways to ease the tensions.

Meanwhile authorities have warned people to stay away from the border with Cambodia in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district in case fighting should break out.

Villagers have been advised to stay at home, to make merit at their temples, to check their underground shelters and to have belongings packed should they need to evacuate.

Despite the warnings, people in provinces along the Thai-Cambodia border still flocked to give foods to monks on Wednesday in a ceremony to mark the Buddhist Lent which fall on Tuesday.

Thai soldiers fired first in border clash - Cambodia

Thai troops are seen near the Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 15, 2008. Thailand sent more soldiers to a disputed stretch of the Cambodian border near the temple on Tuesday, a Thai general said, hours after a Cambodian general said Thai troops had pulled back. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA) REUTERS/CHOR SOKUNTHEA, REUTERS

Cambodian troops patrol near the Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 15, 2008. Thailand sent more soldiers to a disputed stretch of the Cambodian border near the temple on Tuesday, a Thai general said, hours after a Cambodian general said Thai troops had pulled back. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA) REUTERS/CHOR SOKUNTHEA, REUTERS

A Cambodia soldier guards the Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 15, 2008. Thailand sent more soldiers to a disputed stretch of the Cambodian border near the temple on Tuesday, a Thai general said, hours after a Cambodian general said Thai troops had pulled back. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA) REUTERS/CHOR SOKUNTHEA, REUTERS

A Cambodian soldier guards the Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 15, 2008. Thailand sent more soldiers to a disputed stretch of the Cambodian border near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple on Tuesday, a Thai general said, hours after a Cambodian general said Thai troops had pulled back. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA) REUTERS/CHOR SOKUNTHEA, REUTERS

A Cambodian family leaves the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh October 15, 2008. Thailand sent more soldiers to a disputed stretch of the Cambodian border near the temple on Tuesday, a Thai general said, hours after a Cambodian general said Thai troops had pulled back. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA) REUTERS/CHOR SOKUNTHEA, REUTERS

PHNOM PENH, Oct 15 (Reuters) - A Cambodian official said on Wednesday Thai soldiers fired first in a brief exchange of gunfire along a disputed stretch of their border. "I can confirm there was fighting between Cambodians and Thais. The Thais fired at us first," Preab Tan, governor of Cambodia's northern Preah Vihear province, told Reuters.

(Reporting by Ek Madra; Writing by Darren Schuettler; Editing by Alan Raybould)

Thai, Cambodian troops exchange gunfire on border: Cambodia

Thai soldiers set-up artillery guns on the Thai-Cambodian border


Cambodian soldiers on patrol near the Preah Vihear temple

PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia (AFP) — Thai and Cambodian troops exchanged gunfire Wednesday along their border, a Cambodia army commander said, as a row over a disputed patch of land appeared to be escalating.

"Cambodian and Thai troops are opening fire at each other now," Brigadier General Bun Thean told AFP.

Thailand is gathering troops close to a contested patch of land on the border with Cambodia near to a disputed temple, a Cambodian military commander at the scene said Wednesday.

Bun Thean told AFP by telephone that about 500 troops were massing on the Thai side of the frontier near a small patch of disputed land about two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the 11th century Preah Vihear temple ruins.

"They are coming near now. They are just about 50 to 60 meters (165 to 195 feet) away from the area," Bun Thean said.

No Thai officials were available to confirm any fresh deployment of troops, but Thailand's Channel Seven -- a military-run television station -- also reported Wednesday that both sides had reinforced soldiers in the area.

Tensions between the neighbours flared again this week after failed talks on Monday aimed at cooling a months-long stand off over land near Preah Vihear, a United Nations cultural heritage site which is in Cambodian territory.

On Tuesday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen issued an ultimatum to the Thai side after he accused 84 Thai soldiers of entering one of a handful of disputed areas -- leave before midday or risk conflict.

Cambodian officials insisted that the troops did leave before the deadline, but Thailand's foreign minister said they were standing their ground.

Witnesses along the border said the situation was a little calmer on Wednesday, despite the increase in troops.

"The situation is calmer. Nothing has changed yet," Cambodian Brigadier General Yim Pim told AFP.

The spat between the neighbours first flared in July after Preah Vihear was awarded World Heritage status by the UN cultural body UNESCO, angering some Thai nationalists who still claim ownership of the site.

The situation quickly escalated into a military confrontation, with up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops facing off for six weeks, although both sides in August agreed to reduce troop numbers in the disputed area.

Fighting breaks out on Thai-Cambodia border


PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia (Reuters) - Fighting broke out along a disputed stretch of the Thai-Cambodian border on Wednesday, a Reuters photographer at the scene said, saying he had to take cover amid rocket and small arms fire.

"I heard gun-fire all over the place in this area," Reuters photographer Chor Sokunthea said by telephone. "One rocket flew from Thailand over my head and landed. Now you can hear the fighting. They've opened fire."

"I have to find a safe place to hide," he said, before hanging up.

(Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Alan Raybould)

Thai troops gathering near disputed border area: Cambodia

Thai soldiers sit near Preah Vihear temple


PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia (AFP) — Thailand is gathering troops close to a contested patch of land on the border with Cambodia near to a disputed temple, a Cambodian military commander at the scene said Wednesday.

Brigadier Bun Thean told AFP by telephone that about 500 troops were massing on the Thai side of the frontier near a small patch of disputed land about two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the 11th century Preah Vihear temple ruins.

"They are coming near now. They are just about 50 to 60 meters (165 to 195 feet) away from the area," Bun Thean said.

No Thai officials were available to confirm any fresh deployment of troops, but Thailand's Channel Seven -- a military-run television station -- also reported Wednesday that both sides had reinforced soldiers in the area.

Tensions between the neighbours flared again this week after failed talks on Monday aimed at cooling a months-long stand off over land near Preah Vihear, a United Nations cultural heritage site which is in Cambodian territory.

On Tuesday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen issued an ultimatum to the Thai side after he accused 84 Thai soldiers of entering one of a handful of disputed areas -- leave before midday or risk conflict.

Cambodian officials insisted that the troops did leave before the deadline, but Thailand's foreign minister said they were standing their ground.

Witnesses along the border said the situation was a little calmer on Wednesday, despite the increase in troops.

"The situation is calmer. Nothing has changed yet," Cambodian Brigadier General Yim Pim told AFP.

The spat between the neighbours first flared in July after Preah Vihear was awarded World Heritage status by the UN cultural body UNESCO, angering some Thai nationalists who still claim ownership of the site.

The situation quickly escalated into a military confrontation, with up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops facing off for six weeks, although both sides in August agreed to reduce troop numbers in the disputed area.

Thai puts jet fighters on alert in Cambodia spat

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press
Published: October 15, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: A Thai air force official says that Thailand has put jet fighters and C-130 aircraft on standby as war rhetoric heats up with Cambodia in a tense border dispute.

The air force official, Group Captain Montol Satchukorn, called the moves "precautionary measures" a day after Cambodia issued an ultimatum to Thailand to pull back its troops from the border.

Montol told The Associated Press on Wednesday that jet fighters were on standby at bases nationwide and C-130 transport planes were on alert in the capital, Bangkok.

Both sides said they had deployed additional troops to a disputed stretch of jungle near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, which has been a source of enmity between the two countries for decades.

Cambodia absent at Asean diplomats' briefing

(BangkokPost.com, TNA) - The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs said foreign diplomats expressed their understanding about the border situation between Thailand and Cambodia.

However, it was noted that Cambodian and Philippine envoys did not attend the briefing on Wednesday morning.

Department of Information director-general and Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Veerasak Futrakul spent about 45 minutes to clarify the Thai-Cambodian border dispute to eight Asean ambassadors to Thailand.

According to Mr Tharit, the permanent secretary explained the incident when two Thai soldiers were wounded and had legs amputated after stepping on a landmine in Thai territory near Preah Vihear temple on Oct 3.

After inspection, the landmine was found to be a Russian-made PMN2 landmine. The Thai government claimed that the country never used this type of landmine before and it was recently planted.

During the briefing, Mr Veerasak further said Thailand and Cambodia are both signatories of the Ottawa Convention, and the landmine incident violated the agreement.

He reiterated Thailand's stance, saying the country will do its best to protect and maintain its sovereignty.

Mr Tharit said the foreign ambassadors expressed their understanding on the tense conflict between Thailand and Cambodia and they also thanked the ministry for promptly clarifying the situation.

The delegates from Singapore and Indonesia expressed special concern over the border row, and they would like Thailand and Cambodia to be considerate in solving the problem.

Thai PM vows peaceful border talks

The Thai and Cambodian troops reportedly remain about 100m apart [Reuters]

Al Jazeera
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thailand has promised "peaceful negotiations" with Cambodia over a tense border dispute.

But the Thai government also deployed more troops to the border territory near an ancient temple claimed by both sides, and said it was ready to respond militarily if attacked after Cambodia issued an ultimatum for Thai troops to withdraw by midday Tuesday.

Somchai Wongsawat, the Thai prime minister, gave assurances that Thailand would not resort to violence and talks were to continue on Wednesday.

'Peaceful means'

"If there is a problem, we will use peaceful means with an emphasis on negotiations," he said.

Somchai has promised to use negotiations to resolve the border dispute [EPA]

"I want to insist that we will use peaceful negotiations. We will not be an invader. We will not use violence."

The two countries disagreed on what happened and who backed down in their standoff on Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning Hun Sen, the Cambodian prime minister, said Thai troops had tried to advance into Cambodia's territory but that Cambodian soldiers had "waved them back".

"They must withdraw," he had told an economic conference in Phnom Penh, giving a noon deadline and warning of "armed clashes" if Thai troops continued to "trespass" across the border.

Brigadier-General Yim Pim, a Cambodian army commander, later said all Thai troops had retreated about 90 minutes before the deadline and returned to camp, saying "the tense situation has now eased".

A Thai army spokesman initially denied the Cambodian general's claim and Somchai said his country's troops had been on their own territory all along.

But the Thai army's regional commander, General Viboonsak Neepan, later said "troops on both sides have retreated slightly", though they remained "about 100 metres apart".

More troops

Viboonsak said more troops were moved to a nearby area late on Tuesday, but strictly as a defensive measure.

"We have sent more troops to be stationed near the area but only enough to resist [an attack]. We will not attack first," he said.

At the centre of the dispute is Preah Vihear, a 11th century Hindu temple which the UN listed as a World Heritage Site in July, a ruling that re-ignited a decades-old feud.

Both countries have long claimed the temple but the World Court awarded it to Cambodia in 1962, and sovereignty over parts of the surrounding land remains unresolved.

Official: Cambodia likely to weather world economic upheaval

www.chinaview.cn
2008-10-15

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- A senior official of the Cambodian Ministry of Economy and Finance said that the Kingdom is likely to weather the recent global financial crisis, national media reported Wednesday.

The global financial crisis will affect Cambodia's economy, but for the time being there is no substantial impact, Aun Porn Moniroth, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Economy and Finance, told the Phnom Penh Post in an interview.

"Cambodia's financial sector has little direct exposure to outside markets. We have no stock market, and banks in Cambodia have not borrowed much money from foreign banks," Aun Porn Moniroth said.

"We do not expect a significant impact, but we may experience a secondary impact through countries such as (South) Korea," he said.

"(South) Korea has been affected by this crisis, and it has invested in and opened bank branches in Cambodia. So there will bean impact, but we do not know the full extent yet," he added.

In addition, Aun Porn Moniroth said that the Cambodian garment sector would be affected by the crisis in particular.

"We predict that the crisis will affect exports such as garments, but this is an indirect impact," he said.

"The crisis will primarily affect economic growth in the countries that serve as our principal markets. Demand in those markets could drop, so our exports will do the same," he added.

Editor: Sun Yunlong

PM: Cambodians not to fear economically strong China

www.chinaview.cn
2008-10-15

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia should view China's economic prosperity as an opportunity but not a threat, national media Wednesday quoted Prime Minister Hun Sen as telling the two-day Fourth Asia Economic Forum here Tuesday.

"Don't wish that China should be poor. We should wish that China should be rich. It isn't a threat. It will help us ... (China's ) neighbor Cambodia and ASEAN will receive benefits," English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodia Daily quoted him the president as saying.

In addition, the premier said that China could help deal with the current global financial crisis because China still has a large amount of foreign-exchange reserves and potential of economic growth".

According to the Chinese Embassy, the bilateral trade volume between China and Cambodia increased from 12.95 million U.S. dollars in 1992 to 933 million U.S. dollars in 2007.

China is currently the second largest investing country and the fourth largest donor country for Cambodia.

Editor: Sun Yunlong

Cambodia - News : Hun Sen's ultimatum - 14.10.2008

Thai army ready to defend sovereignty

Bangkok Post

Thai troops will remain at the Thai-Cambodian border area, and they are fully ready to protect the country’s sovereignty, Thai army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Royal Thai Army’s statement, it will not withdraw its troops from the disputed border because the territory belongs to Thailand.

Earlier Tuesday, Brig-Gen Yim Pin, the Cambodian army chief, claimed that all Thai soldiers had retreated approximately a kilometre from the disputed border area.

“The three armed forces of Thailand together with their reinforcements are prepared for the potential armed confrontations in the border area to defend the country’s sovereignty. The Supreme Commander Songkitti Jakkabatra will report the army’s information to Prime Minister and Defence Minister Somchai Wongsawat,” Col Sansern said.

He said the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs will determine on the return of Thai people living in Cambodia.

The Thai armed forces have already coordinated with each other to bring back Thai people from Cambodia, once the army received the government’s order, Col Sansern said.

The army spokesman still believed that negotiations between both countries should be a better alternative to settle the border row.

Thailand will not launch an offensive first, but if Cambodia encroaches into Thailand’s territory, the Thai army is ready to confront any incident to protect the country’s sovereignty, Col Sansern concluded.

PM: Thailand won't ignite border clash

(BangkokPost.com) - Thailand will definitely not start using force against Cambodian troops and the Thai army will protect the country’s border without encroaching on Cambodia’s territory, Prime Minister and Defence Minister Somchai Wongsawat said after meeting the Thai army commanders for almost two hours on Tuesday afternoon.

The premier said Thailand will continue to use peaceful means to settle the border demarcation with Cambodia, and the Joint Border Committee will meet to work out the ongoing dispute on October 21.

At the same time, the Commander of Suranaree Task Force, Maj-Gen Kanok Netrakavaesana, has been assigned by the Royal Thai Army to reinforce Thai soldiers stationed at the Thai-Cambodian border in preparation for potential armed clashes, since a group of Cambodian troops have approached nearer to the Thai territory.

According to Si Sa Ket governor Seni Jitkasem, Thai border security volunteers were dispatched to provincial villages to aid the villagers, should violent confrontations occur.

Local people in Si Sa Ket are still living normally without being alarmed about the situation, the governor said.

More police and army officials were also deployed to the border provinces of Chanthaburi and Trat to oversee security around the areas around the clock.

Four Guilty, One Released in Deminer Killing

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
14 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 14 October 2008 (1.00 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 14 October 2008 (1.00 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Four former Khmer Rouge soldiers were sentenced up to 20 years in prison and one man was released Tuesday, following a murder trial for the death of a British deminer and his interpreter in 1996.

Christopher Howes and Hun Huoth were shot and killed in Anlong Veng following their abduction with other deminers from a site near Angkor Wat in March 1996.

Chiep Cheth, 33, was released Tuesday, when Phnom Penh Municipal Court announced a non-guilty verdict for his role in the killings. Chiep Cheth had said in his defense he had led a group of Khmer Rouge soldiers to the site where Howes and others were demining. Had he disobeyed, he said, he would have been killed.

The soldiers, who were under the command of notorious Khmer Rouge guerrilla Ta Mok, were found guilty Tuesday, following their one-day trial Oct. 3.

Khem Nguon, 58, a former commander in Anlong Veng, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, along with his subordinate, Loch Mao, 56, and his driver, Puth Lim, 57. Subordinate Sin Dorn, 52, was given 10 years in prison.

Buyers Promise To Stick With Garment Sector

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
14 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 13 October 2008 (815 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 13 October 2008 (815 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Representatives from 28 brands of garment buyers held a two-day meeting in Phnom Penh this week, expressing commitment to continue buying from Cambodia.

“The representatives stated they are recommending that their companies continue sourcing from Cambodia,” according to a joint statement from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the International Labor Organization.

Garment exports are a top driver of Cambodia’s industry, but worries among the sector have mounted in the facing of an ailing global economy and improved trade relations between the US and Vietnam.

The garment industry, which employs around 350,000 workers, has sought to brand itself friendly to workers and without “sweatshops,” efforts that have at times come at loggerheads against robust activism.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, the nation’s largest, welcomed assurances from buyers, but said representatives had done little to work with independent unions.

“It seems that the gap between the buyers and the unions if far reaching, so workers do not receive the full benefit of production through their work in a legitimate way,” he said.

The Free Trade Union has not seen criteria from buyers ordering factories to maintain good working conditions, proper salaries and workers rights, he said.

Thailand sends more troops to Cambodia border, heightening tensions

CBC News
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thailand sent more soldiers to a disputed stretch of the Cambodian border near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple on Tuesday, a Thai general said, hours after a Cambodian general said Thai troops had pulled back.

Troops from both sides had retreated slightly but were facing off about 100 metres apart, said Vibulsak Neepan, commander of the Thai Eastern Region. Bangkok was sending in reinforcements in case the dispute escalated, he added.

"The situation is quite tense at the front line," Lt.-Gen. Vibulsak told Thai television station Channel 3.

"We have mobilized more troops and heavy artillery to the area, just enough to resist and retaliate."

His comments came shortly after Cambodian commander Gen. Chea Mon, speaking from the border, told Reuters by telephone that nearly 100 Thai soldiers alleged to have made an incursion onto Cambodian soil had retreated.

"The situation seems to have returned to normal," he said. "Our troops are occupying the area where the Thai troops have pulled out."

Vibulsak admitted Thai soldiers had entered a disputed "no-man's land" on the border after getting permission from the Cambodian side, as is normally required. But he said the Thai troops were only in the area to inspect landmines.

On Monday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to turn the area into a "death zone" unless the Thais retreated by midday local time on Tuesday.

The Thai military said it was ready for war and the Foreign Ministry told Thais to "think twice" before visiting Cambodia.

Singapore and Indonesia asked both sides to show restraint.

Hun Sen bangs the war drum too early

By The Nation
October 15, 2008

Cambodian PM's threat of military action over disputed border territory is a gross overreaction

No one really knows what went on at the closed-door meeting on Monday evening between Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat and his Cambodian counterpart, but Cambodian PM Hun Sen wasted no time in making his point. An ultimatum was issued even before Sompong touched down on Thai soil: Hun Sen gave Thailand until midday yesterday to withdraw troops from areas of overlapping territorial claim or he would use military force to resolve the matter.

Sompong, not known for his diplomatic finesse, was just as bullish. He suggested that folks in Phnom Penh need to cool down and added that such areas around the Preah Vihear Temple belong to Thailand.

"The problem is not about withdrawing or not withdrawing - it's our territory. How can they tell us that it is their territory?" Sompong told reporters.

"As soon as I returned, there was a report of a deadline. What can we do? We are in our own homeland, and they want us to evict us from our own home."

Like everybody in Thailand, Hun Sen is frustrated that a resolution to the three-month border stand-off is moving at a snail's pace. Tensions between the neighbours first flared in July and escalated into a six-week military face-off on a small patch of land. Up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops were involved. In August both sides agreed to reduce troop numbers. Part of the reason for the slow pace has to do with the fact that Thailand is going through one of its worst political crises in decades. The government has not been able to formally receive its mandate from Parliament and will not make any unilateral move on foreign policy matters for fear of violating the Constitution.

The tit-for-tat action continued yesterday with both sides bluffing one another. Hun Sen maintained his tough rhetoric, saying he has "Ordered all military commanders to take responsibility for the area. The area is a life and death battle zone. Ants can hurt elephants. They [the Thais] should not have done this."

Not long after that, Cambodia's top general told reporters that some 80 Thai troops had already pulled back. But the Thai Foreign Ministry shot back, accusing Hun Sen of violating the spirit of neighbourliness.

If Cambodia resorts to force, "Thailand will have to exercise its right of self defence," the Foreign Ministry said, adding it was investigating whether Phnom Penh had violated an international treaty by laying new landmines in the area.

The tension began when the temple was awarded World Heritage status by Unesco, with the endorsement of the Thai government. The UN cultural body and the Cambodian government ignored a plea from the Thai courts, which had concluded that the endorsement by the then government of Samak Sundaravej was unlawful.

So much for good neighbourliness and so much for a cultural body whose short-sightedness did absolutely nothing to assure peace and stability between the two neighbours. Unesco acted as if its World Heritage status was some god-given right and ignored the fact that a strongman in Phnom Penh was exploiting it for political gain.

The Monday-night war drum was not the first time Hun Sen has crossed the line with Thailand. His unwarranted comments on the Thai ability to chair Asean meetings still ring in the ears of many in Bangkok. No Asean members belittled Cambodia when it was at its nadir; there was only a genuine desire to help.

Perhaps if the Khmer Rouge had held a course on Leadership 101 for its cadres, Hun Sen would be a different person. The recent commentary, "The World Leader in Corruption Is - Cambodia" by Joel Brinkley, the former Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for The New York Times and now a professor of journalism at Stanford University, will give a better understanding of the man who runs Cambodia.

Like the Thais, the Cambodian people deserve better than shortsighted leaders who will do anything to score quick political points, even if it means putting people's lives at stake.

Villagers prepare to bunker down

By The Nation
October 15, 2008

As rumours abound,families check evacuation readiness

Authorities have cautioned the public to stay away from the border with Cambodia in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district in case fighting should break out.Villagers have been advised to stay at home, to make merit at their temples, to check their underground shelters and to have belongings packed should they need to evacuate.

The warning follows Cambodian PM Hun Sen's ultimatum for Thai troops to back off by noon yesterday from the area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple and other disputed spots along the border. Thai troops have been on alert while village headฌmen have prohibited villagers from going near the disputed area for safety reasons.

A 63yearold resident, Kong Pongon said after hearing the warnings, he and his neighbours decided that if fighting erupted they were ready for battle like they had been against the communists in 19761977. "Thai people are ready to create peace along the border," he said. Women and children have practised taking shelter in the bunkers.

At the Thai army base near Phu Laor Fall, artillery is said to be in readiness, while locals have gathered to discuss fighting alongside Thai soldiers as they did in 1977. Women, children and the elderly are ready for evacuation.

Heavily armed Cambodian soldiers have been reported on the border about 20 kilometres near the Ta Muen Thom and Ta Kwai temple ruins in Surin's Phanom Dongrak district.

An Army Area 2 source insisted the border areas patrolled by Thai troops were on Thai soil and the military had been there for 30 years without a problem. The atmosphere at the market near Chong JomOrsamet Pass in Kap Choeng district was said to be normal.

In Sa Kaew, rumours that Cambodia might close the border to Thailand prompted many Cambodians to buy water, dried food and other goods at Thailand's Rong Kleu market. At 11am yesterday, Cambodian officials ordered 3,000 Cambodian vendors and customers at the market to pack up and prepare to return to Cambodia should fighting break out.

An army source said soldiers with heavy weapons and tanks had been seen arriving at the Cambodian army base in Ban Nimit in Srisopon, 16 kiloฌmetres from Sa Kaew's Aranyaprathet district.

Thai troops deployed to cope with Cambodia

In this July 18, 2008, file photo Thai soldiers walk from Thai border to a Cambodian Buddhist temple where Thai soldiers have occupied temple near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. A Cambodian army official says on Tuesday October 14, 2008, Thai troops have retreated from a disputed border zone ahead of a noon deadline issued by Cambodia's prime minister. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith, FILE)

By KER MUNTHIT

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Thailand vowed it was ready to respond militarily if attacked by Cambodia after its smaller neighbor issued an ultimatum for Thai troops to pull back from disputed border territory by midday Tuesday.

Thailand moved more troops to an area nearby late Tuesday, but strictly as a defensive measure, said a senior Thai army officer.

The troops on both sides remained only about 100 yards apart, said Gen. Viboonsak Neepan, the Thai Army commander for the region.

"We have sent more troops to be stationed near the area but only enough to resist (an attack). We will not attack first," Viboonsak said. He did not specify how many troops were sent.

Despite increasingly heated rhetoric — including a description by Cambodia's prime minister of the contested land as "a life-and-death battle zone" — fighting did not break out, although the two countries disagreed on who backed down.

Thailand's prime minister said his country's troops had been on their own territory all along.

"If there is a problem, we will use peaceful means with an emphasis on negotiations," said Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat. "We will not be an invader." Somchai is also under intense political pressure at home from anti-government militants seeking his resignation.

The dispute is over the land around Preah Vihear, an 11th century temple long claimed by both countries but awarded to Cambodia by the World Court in 1962. Sovereignty over some of the land around the temple has not been clearly resolved.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday morning that Thai troops had tried a day earlier to advance into Cambodia's territory but Cambodian soldiers "waved them back and said, 'If you want to die, keep coming.'"

"They must withdraw," Hun Sen said in a speech in the capital, Phnom Penh. "I have set the timeline for them to withdraw by 12 o'clock."

Cambodian army commander Brig. Gen. Yim Pim later said all Thai troops had retreated about 90 minutes ahead of the deadline and were back inside their camp about half a mile from the contested territory.

"The tense situation has now eased," Yim Pim told The Associated Press.

Phnom Penh announces Thai pullout, Bangkok denies

AsiaNews.it
10/14/2008
CAMBODIA – THAILAND

Both sides issue statements and denials with regards to disputed border area. Cambodians claim Thais pulled back; Thais reject claim. For decades the Preah Vihear Temple, a UNESCO world heritage site, has been at the core of a dispute between the two neighbours.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Cambodian claims that Thai troops pulled back from the border a few hours before its ultimatum expired (noon local time) has been denied by Thai authorities. "We are still there," said Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat who is also the country’s Defence Minister, after a meeting with Army chief General Anupong Paochinda and foreign ministry officials.

Cambodian Prime minister Hun Sen gave Thailand a noon deadline today to withdraw all its troops from an area adjacent to the Preah Vihear temple on the Thai-Cambodian border or face a "large-scale conflict.”

Thailand’s response was immediate. Thai army spokesman Sansern Kaewkumnerd denied the Cambodian claim that Thai troops had withdrawn from the disputed area. He reiterated instead his country’s willingness “to continue with bilateral talks, but if the situation escalates, we are ready.”

Furthermore, Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwait said about 80 troops went into the disputed territory on a mine removal mission after two Thai soldiers lost legs earlier this month when they stepped on land mines.

Tensions between the two neighbours heated up last August after UNESCO declared the Preah Vihear Temple a world heritage site in July.

The holy site, which is located on a promontory, belongs to Cambodia in accordance with a decision made by the International Court of Justice in 1962.

The surrounding area, no more than 4.5 km2, is however at the heart of a dispute between the two neighbours, each claiming substantial chunks of the other country’s territory.

The Thai military controls the main roads into the Temple area and some border sections are not clearly demarcated, factors which have fuelled tensions between Phnom Penh and Bangkok, which have in recent weeks deployed respectively 800 and 400 soldiers along the border.

Thailand, Cambodia dig in on border dispute

The Christian Science Monitor
Cambodia says Thai soldiers retreated Tuesday in response to an ultimatum, but Thailand reports sending reinforcements to the disputed region.

By Huma Yusuf
October 14, 2008
Thai troops reportedly retreated Tuesday from a disputed border region in response to an ultimatum issued by Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.

On Monday, Mr. Hun had warned that Cambodian forces would turn the contested border strip near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple into a "death zone" if Thai troops did not retreat within 24 hours. But analysts argue that the Thai-Cambodian standoff at the site of the ancient Hindu temple will receive less attention from the Thai government than the ongoing political upheaval in Bangkok.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Thai troops retreated from the contested area ahead of a noon deadline set by Sen.

Cambodian army commander Brig. Gen. Yim Pim

says all Thai troops have retreated and are about half a mile (1 kilometer) from the contested territory.

"The tense situation has now eased," Yim Pim

told the Associated Press.

But Reuters reports that more Thai troops were sent to the border region on Tuesday.
Eastern Region Commander Vibulsak Neepan said troops from both sides had retreated slightly but were facing off about 100 metres apart and Bangkok was sending in reinforcements in case the dispute escalated.

"The situation is quite tense at the front line," Lieutenant-General Vibulsak told Channel 3 television.

"We have mobilised more troops and heavy artillery to the area, just enough to resist and retaliate."

According to The Nation, a Thai daily, Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat suggested that a troop withdrawal is impossible and called a meeting to discuss the Cambodian threat.

Somchai said commander in chiefs are meeting to look into details and information of the matters.

He reiterated that it is not possible for the Thai troops to withdraw from the area. "It is like you are asked to retreat from your own house," he said.

Cambodia's ultimatum to Thailand came after a meeting Monday in Phnom Penh between Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat and his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong, to discuss the border controversy. According to the AP, Cambodia's Foreign Ministry initially proposed more negotiations with Thailand to resolve the matter peacefully.

Given the tone of the encounter between the Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers, the Cambodian ultimatum, issued on Monday, took the Thai authorities by surprise, reports The Nation.

Somchai quoted Sompong as saying that he was surprised that Hun Sen made such a threat after the meeting. "During the meeting, Prime Minister Hun Sen seemed to have no problems on the matters. It was surprising that he came out of the meeting room to say that," Sompong said.

Sompong told the meeting in Phnom Penh that Thailand will not have any problem to withdraw if Cambodia did the same to avoid any confrontation.

According to Reuters, tensions and troop presence along the contested Thai-Cambodian border have been escalating this month after soldiers on both sides were wounded during clashes on Oct. 3.

[Two] Thai soldiers lost legs earlier this month the day after a brief exchange of fire in which soldiers from both sides were wounded.

Cambodian Deputy Defence Minister General Neang Phat said more troops were heading to the area to oppose up to 500 Thai soldiers who had crossed the border.

"We are building up our troops at the border in response to Thailand but I cannot reveal the number," he told reporters.

Hun Sen said 84 Thai soldiers were "camping" on Cambodian soil about 30 metres away from his own forces.

The conflict first came to a head in July, when hundreds of Thai and Cambodian troops mobilized at Preah Vihear after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated the temple a World Heritage Site for Cambodia. The Christian Science Monitor reported at the time that the border dispute had been stoked to further domestic political goals in both countries. In Thailand, opponents of former Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who was ousted in September, accused the government of surrendering sovereignty by ceding the ancient temple to Cambodia.

Now, a sustained opposition campaign against Thailand's ruling party may prevent the border dispute from taking center stage in Bangkok.

"Since late August, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), a royalist group that seeks to overhaul democracy in Thailand, has occupied the government's executive offices" and called for its removal, reports The Christian Science Monitor.

Last week, the newly elected yet embattled Somchai canceled a planned visit to Cambodia with little notice, reports Deutsche Presse-Agentur. He was due to arrive in Phnom Penh on Monday to discuss the border dispute.

According to an analyst interviewed by The Phnom Penh Post, an independent Cambodian newspaper, Thailand's domestic political turmoil will impede a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the border conflict.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst based at Bangkok's Chulalangkorn University, told the Post that the situation in Thailand, which has seen activists of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) take to the streets in an attempt to force Somchai's resignation, will only undermine the border negotiations.

"The turmoil and confrontation in Bangkok are going to adversely affect Prime Minister Somchai's bargaining position," he said. "He is essentially being overthrown by the PAD, and he will not have the domestic support needed to negotiate the issue."

Singapore's foreign ministry has urged Thailand and Cambodia to "resolve the issue through negotiations without resorting to force," reports the BBC.

Picture from Preah Vihear: NO RETREAT (Bangkok Post)

A Cambodian walks past the disputed temple in Preah Vihear. Thai troops have pulled back from a hotly disputed border area after an ultimatum from Cambodia, military officials said Tuesday, calming fears of armed conflict between the neighbours.(AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Cambodia's General Srey Dek (L) listens to an interpreter as Thailand's Colonel Chayan Huay Soongnern (R) watches at Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 14, 2008. Thai soldiers pulled back from a disputed stretch of the Cambodian border on Tuesday, averting a possible military confrontation near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, a Cambodian general on the scene said. Bangkok denied his claim.REUTERS/Stringer (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian soldiers on patrol near the Preah Vihear temple. Thailand and Cambodia showed no signs of resolving their long-simmering spat over a disputed border area near an ancient temple, with Bangkok insisting its troops will remain in place.(AFP/Str)



A Cambodian soldier stands guard next to a buddhist monk Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple Photo: EPA

Witness Dont take my land - 08 Oct

Part 1



Part 2

Cambodia - News : former Khmer Rouge jailed - 14.10.2008

Thailand sends more troops to Cambodian border

October 14, 2008
By Nopporn Wong-Anan and Ek Madra

BANGKOK/PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Thailand sent more soldiers to a disputed stretch of the Cambodian border near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple on Tuesday, a Thai general said, hours after a Cambodian general said Thai troops had pulled back.

Eastern Region Commander Vibulsak Neepan said troops from both sides had retreated slightly but were facing off about 100 metres apart and Bangkok was sending in reinforcements in case the dispute escalated.

"The situation is quite tense at the front line," Lieutenant-General Vibulsak told Channel 3 television.

"We have mobilised more troops and heavy artillery to the area, just enough to resist and retaliate."

His comments came shortly after Cambodian commander General Chea Mon told Reuters by telephone from the border that nearly 100 Thai soldiers alleged to have made an incursion onto Cambodian soil had retreated.

"The situation seems to have returned to normal," he said. "Our troops are occupying the area where the Thai troops have pulled out."

Vibulsak admitted Thai soldiers had entered a disputed "no-man's land" on the border after getting permission from the Cambodian side, as is normally required, but said they were only there to inspect landmines.

On Monday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to turn the area into a "death zone" unless the Thais retreated by midday Tuesday (6 a.m. British time).

The Thai military said it was ready for war and the Foreign Ministry told Thais to "think twice" before visiting Cambodia, only fives years after a nationalist mob torched the embassy in Phnom Penh in an argument about another ancient Hindu temple.

Singapore and Indonesia asked both sides to show restraint.

Tensions have been high since July, when 2,000 soldiers faced off only yards apart in trenches dug into a hillside that until 10 years ago was under the control of remnants of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot's guerrilla army.

At the heart of the dispute is 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub near the temple, which the International Court of Justice awarded to Cambodia in 1962, a ruling that has rankled in Thailand ever since.

The dispute flared in July after protesters trying to overthrow the Thai government attacked Bangkok's backing of Phnom Penh's bid to list the Hindu ruins as a World Heritage site.

(Additional reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak and Nopporn Wong-Anan)

(Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Paul Tait)

No retreat

BangokPost.com/dpa

Cambodia claimed on Tuesday that Thai soldiers pulled back from a tense border region, but Thai officials denied making any retreat. Thailand, officials vowed, would not be the first to resort to force along the frontier.

Cambodian army Gen Chea Mon told the Reuters news agency: "They (Thailand) pulled out from our land" shortly before the so-called Phnom Penh ultimatum at noon. "The situation seems to have returned to normal. Our troops are occupying the area where the Thai troops have pulled out."

Sheer nonsense, said Thai officials.

"We are still there," Prime Minister and Defence Minister Somchai Wongsawat said after a meeting with Army chief Gen Anupong Paochinda and foreign ministry officials.

Also: "We will not be the side to use force first," he told a press conference. "We will try to use negotiations."

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday shocked Thailand and foreign observers when he gave a deadline of noon on Tuesday to withdraw all its troops from an area adjacent to the Preah Vihear temple on the Thai-Cambodian border or face a "large-scale conflict."

Thai foreign ministry officials expressed surprise at Cambodia's claims that Thailand had already withdrawn its troops from the area, which has been the source of an increasingly volatile spat between the two countries since July.

"We were quite surprised by the withdrawal claim, because we think of this territory as being in Thailand, so why would we withdraw," said Thani Thongphakdi, a deputy spokesman for the foreign ministry.

In a statement issued earlier Tuesday, the foreign ministry also expressed "surprise" at Hun Sen's fighting words, noting that it went against the "sprit of neighbourliness" between fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

After his meeting with Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat in Phnom Penh on Monday, Hun Sen told reporters that he had warned the Thais to withdraw their troops from the disputed area around the Preah Vihear temple or face fighting.

"They must move tonight or tomorrow. If they don't ... there will be fighting," he said.

Cambodia has been pressing to have the border spat settled by a regional or international body, but Thailand has insisted it could be handled bilaterally. (dpa)

An uneasy peace on Thai-Cambodian border

Cambodian troops patrolling near the disputed Preah Vihear temple on Tuesday. (Reuters)


International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press
Published: October 14, 2008

PHNOM PENH: Thai troops retreated from a disputed border zone Tuesday, a Cambodian general said, averting a possible military clash after the Cambodian prime minister issued an ultimatum to Thailand to withdraw by midday.

But a Thai Army spokesman denied that any soldiers had been withdrawn and said his country was "ready" to respond militarily if attacked.

The Cambodian Army commander, Brigadier General Yim Pim, said all Thai troops had retreated and were back inside their camp about one kilometer, or half a mile, from the contested territory.

"The tense situation has now eased," Yim Pim said.

Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia had warned Thailand to pull back 84 troops from the area by noon. He accused the soldiers of having crossed into Cambodian territory in a disputed stretch of jungle near the Preah Vihear temple, an 11th-century site that has been a source of enmity between the two countries for decades.

"They must withdraw," Hun Sen said during a speech at an economic conference in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. "I have set the timeline for them to withdraw by 12 o'clock.
"At any cost, we will not allow Thai troops to invade this area. I would like to be clear about this."

Hun Sen added that he had ordered Cambodian Army chiefs to "take full responsibility over this area," which he called "a life-and-death battle zone."

Yim Pim, the Cambodian general, said the troops had retreated about 90 minutes before the noon deadline.

A Thai Army spokesman, Sansern Kaewkumnerd, denied the Cambodian assertion that Thai troops had withdrawn from the disputed area.

"There has been no troop movement," Sansern said in an interview by telephone. "The army wants the two countries to continue with bilateral talks, but if the situation escalates, we are ready. But we will not attack first."

Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwait of Thailand said about 80 troops went into the disputed territory on a mine-removal mission after two Thai soldiers lost legs earlier this month when they stepped on land mines.

A Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tharit Charungvat, earlier told reporters that Thailand was "surprised" Hun Sen had issued an ultimatum "threatening the use of force."

If Cambodia does resort to the use of force, he cautioned, "Thailand will have to exercise its right to self-defense."

The Thai prime minister, Somchai Wongsawat, also speaking earlier in the day, said he had ordered the army to "take care of the situation so there is no violence."

"We do not object to redeployment, so there is no confrontation," Somchai said Tuesday as he headed into a weekly cabinet meeting.

Both countries have long claimed Preah Vihear, but the World Court awarded it to Cambodia in 1962. Sovereignty over some of the land around the temple, however, has not been clearly resolved.

Tensions flared July 15 after Unesco, the United Nations cultural agency, approved Cambodia's bid to have the temple named a World Heritage Site. Cambodia deployed about 800 troops to the border; Thailand sent about 400.

Both sides pulled back most of their troops in late August, but it is not clear how many remain in the area and at other spots along the disputed border.

A brief gun battle broke out between the two sides early this month, with one Cambodian and two Thai soldiers wounded.

Each side said the other fired first, and they both blamed each other for being on the wrong side of the border.

Thai government ready to fight against Cambodia

Zimbabwe News.Net
Tuesday 14th October, 2008

Thailand's Government has said it will strongly defend itself if Cambodia engages with Thai troops in a disputed border area.

Cambodia had demanded that a group of Thai troops near the Preah Vihear temple in the country's north-west leave the area, with Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, warning the area could turn into a “death battle zone.”

While a Cambodian introduced deadline has passed, Thai army officials have reported their soldiers are still in the area.

In a statement from the Foreign Ministry, Thailand said it would protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

But Cambodia has claimed Thai troops withdrew at the deadline and their places have now been filled by Cambodian soldiers.

At the heart of the dispute is 4.5 square kilometres of land near a temple, which the International Court of Justice awarded to Cambodia in 1962.

In July this year, tensions came to the surface when around 1,000 soldiers on both sides faced off against each other in dug-out trenches.

Thailand steps back in confrontation with Cambodia over 900-year-old temple

A Cambodian soldier stands guard next to a buddhist monk Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple Photo: EPA


A day after Cambodia warned that Thai troops must withdraw from a disputed border area or risk a "large-scale armed conflict", the two countries appear to have stepped back from the brink – for now at least.
Telegraph Media Group

By Thomas Bell in Bangkok
14 Oct 2008

But the area around a 900-year-old temple, where both countries claim 1.8 square miles of territory, remains tense and the two sides continued to offer conflicting accounts of the situation on the ground.

On Monday, Hun Sen, the Cambodian prime minister, gave a 24 hour ultimatum for 80 Thai troops allegedly inside Cambodia to withdraw. On Tuesday morning, the Cambodian commander, General Yim Pim, claimed the soldiers had moved back inside Thailand.

"The tense situation has now eased," he said.

But Thailand, which had earlier insisted that its troops were in its own territory, denied any withdrawal.

"There has been no troop movement," said the Thai army spokesman Sansern Kaewkumnerd. "The army wants the two countries to continue with bilateral talks, but if the situation escalates, we are ready."

Hundreds of troops and artillery have been facing each other across the heavily mined frontier since the crisis erupted in July. Both sides insist they are ready for war to protect what each regards as their sovereign territory.

Observers fear that with the area so heavily militarised that the smallest misjudgment could trigger a conflict. One Cambodian and two Thai soldiers were injured in an exchange of fire on October 3.

At the centre of it all is Preah Vihear, the spectacular ruin of a Hindu temple which the International Court of Justice ruled belongs to Cambodia in 1962.

Sacravatoons : " The Jockeys "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Thai soldiers pull back from Cambodian border

stuff.co.nz
Reuters Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Thai soldiers have pulled back from a disputed stretch of the Cambodian border, averting a possible military confrontation in the region of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, a Cambodian general on the scene said.

"They pulled out from our land," General Chea Mon told Reuters by phone from the border shortly before the expiry of a deadline set by Phnom Penh for the withdrawal of nearly 100 Thai soldiers from the jungle-clad area.

"The situation seems to have returned to normal," he said. "Our troops are occupying the area where the Thai troops have pulled out."

Before the withdrawal, both Phnom Penh and Bangkok had been banging the war drums, with Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat saying his government would not heed the ultimatum from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. "We are in our homeland. How can they expect us to leave our home?" he said in reply to a question from a reporter.

In a speech to an economic conference in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen repeated the deadline for Thai forces to pull back, but did not say what consequences would follow. On Monday, he said his forces would turn the area into a "death zone".

"We will not let the Thais stand on our land," he said, adding that Cambodian soldiers, many of them battle-hardened Khmer Rouge veterans, were shouting at the Thai lines: "If you want to die, come over here."

Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat had said Bangkok would pull back its troops only as part of wider joint effort to agree on the various disputed parts of the border.

"We have no problem with a troop withdrawal to avoid confrontation, but we need a joint committee to meet and agree on how far we are going to pull back and how many troops will be withdrawn," he said before a weekly cabinet meeting.

Singapore called for both sides to show restraint.

"We urge both sides to contain emotions, exercise restraint and resolve the issue through negotiations without resorting to force," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Tensions have been high since July, when around 1,000 soldiers on both sides faced off only yards apart in trenches dug into a hillside that until 10 years ago was under the control of remnants of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot's guerrilla army.

At the heart of the dispute is 4.6sq km of scrub near the temple, which the International Court of Justice awarded to Cambodia in 1962, a ruling that has rankled many in Thailand ever since.

The dispute flared in July after protesters trying to overthrow the Thai government attacked Bangkok's backing of Phnom Penh's bid to list the Hindu ruins as a World Heritage site.

Thailand to use peaceful means to resolve boundary issues with Cambodia

www.chinaview.cn
2008-10-14

BANGKOK, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said Tuesday Thailand will continue to use peaceful means to settle the border demarcation with Cambodia.

After meeting the Thai army commanders for almost two hours on Tuesday afternoon, Somchai Wongsawat, also Defense Minister, said a joint border committee will meet to work out the ongoing dispute on Oct. 21.

Somchai said Thailand will definitely not start using force against Cambodian troops and the Thai army will protect the country's border without encroaching on Cambodia's territory.

At the same time, the Commander of Suranaree Task Force, Maj-Gen Kanok Netrakavaesana, has been assigned by the Royal Thai Armyto reinforce Thai soldiers stationed at the Thai-Cambodian border in preparation for potential armed clashes, since a group of Cambodian troops have approached nearer to the Thai territory, according to local newspaper Bangkok Post's website.

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen issued an ultimatum on Monday to open wars if Thailand failed to withdraw its troops from an area near Preah Vihear Temple.

But, Thai army said Tuesday in a statement that it will maintain its troops in the disputed area near Preah Vihear Temple despite Cambodia's ultimatum for Thailand to withdraw the troops.

In July, tensions ran high after the ancient Preah Vihear Temple was awarded world heritage status by UNESCO, angering nationalists in Thailand who still claim ownership of the site.

The tension later turned into a military confrontation, in which up to 1,000 Thai and Cambodian troops faced off for six weeks. In mid-August, most troops evacuated and just a few dozen soldiers stationed near the temple.

In October at the border area, at least two Thai troops and one Cambodian soldier were wounded during an exchange of gunfire, and two other Thai soldiers were seriously injured after stepping on a landmine.

Editor: An

Thailand to Act in Self-Defence If Cambodia Uses Force - Thai Foreign Ministry

redOrbit.com
Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Text of report in English by Thai newspaper The Nation website on 14 October

[Unattributed report: "Thailand will act in self -defence : Cambodia told"]

If Cambodia resorts to use of force, Thailand will have to exercise its right of self-defence as provided under the Charter of the United Nations: Thai FM

Tensions along Thai and Cambodian border have flared up again on Tuesday after Thailand refused to follow Cambodia's threat to withdraw its troops from an area near Preah Vihear Temple.

Thai Foreign Ministry's statement said, ""If Cambodia does resort to the use of force in accordance with its so-called ultimatum, Thailand will have to exercise its right of self-defence as provided under the Charter of the United Nations."

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen issued the ultimatum on Monday, saying Bangkok could face large-scale conflict if Thailand failed to abide by his threat.

He issued the threat after Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Wongsawat met with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Nam Hong in a border meeting in Phnom Penh on Monday. "The Veal Intry area is the dead or alive point for us "The situation at the Veal Intry area is too hot. They have to remove tonight or tomorrow. If they don't remove from the Veal Intry area, war will be waged," he said.

Meanwhile Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat on Tuesday chaired an urgent meeting to discuss about the matters Cambodia's threat to start war if Thailand did not evacuate its troops from an area near the Preah Vihear Temple.

Somchai reiterated that it is not possible for the Thai troops to withdraw from the area. "It is like you are asked to retreat from your own house," he said.

Thai premier quoted Sompong as saying that he was surprised that Hun Sen made such a threat after the meeting. "During the meeting, Prime Minister Hun Sen seemed to have no problems on the matters. It was surprising that he came out of the meeting room to say that," Sompong said.

Sompong told the meeting in Phnom Penh that Thailand will not have any problem to withdraw if Cambodia did the same to avoid any confrontation.

Asked whether he will telephone Hun Sen about the issue, Somchai said he will look into details and surrounding circumstances before deciding the next step.