Saturday, 5 February 2011

Cambodian, Thai troops exchange gunfire at border area

via CAAI


PHNOM PENH, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Clash between Cambodian and Thai troops near the 11th century temple was still on at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and the Cambodian troops have arrested 5-6 Thai troops, said military sources.

"Now, we have arrested 5-6 Thai troops and some raised hands to defect," said a soldier standby at the area of Preah Vihear temple. "Thai side has asked us to do negotiation."

Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh told Xinhua through phone on Friday that "We have warned them not to enter our territory, but they still violated and entered, so we opened fire to defend our territory."

He added that heavy weapons including rockets, machine guns, mortars and artillery have been used in the exchange of fire.

"It's too early to report about the deaths and wounds in the clash," said Tea Banh.

The clash started at 3:15 p.m. on Friday afternoon as Thai bulldozers tried to clear the way at the border and enter Cambodia territory and Cambodian troops prevented them from moving into Cambodia at Beehive area in front of Preah Vihear temple, but they did not listen to, "so military clash happened to protect our territory," said the soldier.

The incident was the latest in a long-festering dispute over the cliff-top Preah Vihear temple.

The incident coincided with the visit of Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya in Cambodia to attend the 7th meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation.

The re-tension between Cambodia and Thailand over the border happened on Jan. 27 after Thailand asked Cambodia to remove a national flag over Wat Keo Sikha Kiri Svarak pagoda near Preah Vihear temple, claiming that the pagoda is on the disputed area, but the Cambodian side rejected it.

Cambodia has the Preah Vihear temple enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand had border conflict over the Thai claim of ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the temple, triggering a military build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

Editor: Bi Mingxin

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