via CAAI News Media
By The Nation, Agencies
Prime Minster Abhisit Vejjajiva downplayed on Thursday the Cambodian rocket test, saying Thailand has no problem with the exercise as it was a domestic affairs.
"I have already talked to our military commanders before the Cambodian rocket test. They know the situation very well," Abhisit told reporters.
"Military exercise is a normal practice. We also have our own drill recently."
Some 200 rounds from the Soviet-made, BM21 rocket launcher were fired in the mountains of remote Kampong Chhnang province, some 80 kilometres north of the capital Phnom Penh, on Thursday.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said the exercise was "not about showing any military muscles", even though he is at loggerheads with the Thai government.
He said the drill was aimed at preparing for the defence of his country.
"This is a normal drill and preparation to defend the nation in case there is an invasion," Hun Sen said during a separate ceremony in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh shortly after the rockets were fired.
Thailand and Cambodia are in loggerhead over the disputed areas adjacent to the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear as well as Hun Sen's appointment of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as his advisor.
Hun Sen often launched verbal attacks to Thai leaders to show his disappointment over the issue of Preah Vihear.
Shortly before the weapons were fired in front of assembled media and top brass at Kampong Chhnang, defence ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat also said the drill was not meant as a show of force.
"It is about the strengthening of the abilities of our forces in order to fulfil the duties of national defence against invaders," Chhum Socheat added.
Muffled thumps could be heard as salvos of rockets landed.
Hun Sen declared that the test was a success, saying targets 20, 30 and 40 kilometres away from the launch site were hit.
"(We) have had these kinds of weapons since the 1980s, but we have stored them in warehouses for too long. So now the weapons needed to be taken out to test fire to see whether they exploded or not," Hun Sen said.