Thursday, 10 February 2011

Battle weary villagers in mixed emotions

via CAAI

By Pravit Rojanaphruk
The Nation
Kantharalak, Si Sa Ket
Published on February 10, 2011

As more than a dozen military vehicles were being deployed near the Thai-Cambodian border yesterday and some villagers cheered and waved to offer moral support, a separate group of 30 villagers who were evacuated from the Phum Saron village demanded angrily that the clashes be brought to an end.

The tanks arrived at Kantharalak district early yesterday morning with confident and guardedly relaxed looking soldiers.

"This is the best tank in Asia," one young soldier boasted to The Nation as he drove the tank off the trailer and went back and forth in billows of black smoke. Villagers came to stare and wave.

About four hours later, some 30 evacuees from the Phum Saron village came out holding placards with angry messages demanding peace. These people have been living in a hot, uncomfortable camp for nearly a week and want no more trouble, especially not from the nationalist People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which is considering a visit to the border town.

One of the banners read: "We want peace. We don't want the PAD."

Their leader Visit Duangkaew told Si Sa Ket's Deputy Governor Charnchana Iamsaeng that the villagers would not guarantee the safety of PAD leaders such as Chamlong Srimuang, if they insist on dropping by.

"All of this is happening due to people like Chamlong," he said angrily. "We will continue having trouble if he [Chamlong] comes over, though he won't be affected if he stays in Bangkok."

The deputy governor tried to calm down the villagers by saying he had heard the PAD leaders had changed their minds.

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