Saturday, 10 October 2009

Cambodia denies laying landmines near Preah Vihear


Fri, Oct 09, 2009
The Nation/Asia News Network
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Phnom Penh, Cambodia - The Cambodian military has rejected recent Thai media reports that its soldiers have laid landmines in the disputed border region around Preah Vihear temple, local media reported Thursday.

A brigade commander stationed at the 11th-century Hindu temple said there was no reason to lay landmines, and said the comments amounted to standard provocation by Thailand.

"Cambodian soldiers are not laying landmines along the border," brigade commander Yim Phim told the Phnom Penh Post newspaper. "All the mines on the border were put there in the 80s and 90s."

His comments came after a recent article in Thailand's The Nation newspaper which alleged Cambodian troops were mining the contested area. If the allegation were true, it would be a breach of Cambodia's obligations under the Ottawa Convention, which among other things bans the use of landmines.

The article drew a furious response from the Cambodian ambassador to Thailand, who described the article as "extremely provocative" and "rabble-rousing" in a letter to the newspaper on Tuesday.

Preah Vihear temple and the area surrounding it have long been a source of friction between the two countries. The temple sits on Cambodia's northern border with Thailand, and was awarded to Cambodia in 1962 by the World Court,while the area around it remains disputed.

Last year the UN's cultural body UNESCO added Preah Vihear to its World Heritage List, a move that rankled Thai nationalists.

At least seven Cambodian and Thai soldiers have since died in occasional clashes around the temple complex. However, in late August both sides stood down troops and promised to find a peaceful solution to the issue.


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