Friday, 20 February 2009

Cambodia says Thai delegation to apologize for artillery fire

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- A Thai delegation was to visit Phnom Penh to discuss an incident earlier this week in which Thai soldiers fired at least eight artillery shells into Cambodian territory, national media reported Friday, citing a Foreign Ministry official.

The shells landed near the ancient Ta Krabey temple in Oddar Meanchey province on Tuesday, an RCAF commander said, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

Koy Kuong, a spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Post Thursday that the local Thai military had apologized to their Cambodian counterparts immediately after the strike and promised to avoid any similar incidents in future.

"Now the delegation will come to Phnom Penh to apologize to the Cambodian government," Koy Kuong said.

"Thailand has agreed to take responsibility for the mistake, so we now consider this matter closed," he said.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said officials from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), the Council of Ministers and the Foreign Ministry had launched an investigation into the incident.

"We will collect all the evidence including the direction of fire to evaluate whether this was accidental or intentional," Siphan said.

"We want to reduce the chances of conflict along the border, but we also need to protect our sovereignty," he said.

Tension between Thailand and Cambodia ratcheted higher in 2008 when troops from both countries clashed at the Preah Vihear Temple and soldiers on both sides died in fighting in October before an uneasy peace was restored.

An RCAF military commander based in the border region told the Post Wednesday that in this week's incident the shells had landed two kilometers inside Cambodian territory.

He said the 81 mm and 106 mm shells had come down near Ta Krabey Temple and Bos Thom village.

The commander, who requested anonymity, said six shells had exploded in the forest and another two had failed to go off. No one was injured, and no property was damaged.

Editor: Wang Guanqun

No comments: