Saturday, 5 February 2011

Six dead in Thai-Cambodian border clashes

via CAAI

February 4, 2011

SISAKET, THAILAND (BNO NEWS) — At least six people on Friday were killed as Thai and Cambodian troops clashed in the border near the Hindu Preah Vihear Temple, The Nation newspaper reported.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that Cambodian soldiers opened fire at Thai soldiers who returned the fire. The clash was one of the worst witnessed in the region over the last decade.

However, Cambodia said other wise and announced that it will file a complaint at the United Nations Security Council over the “Thai invasion” on Saturday. The combat took place in the disputed area near Preah Vihear, Cambodia.

At about 3:15 p.m. local time, shots were heard near the Phu Ma Khua hill. Authorities told villagers to seek shelter and later evacuated them to safe areas in Kantharalak district, about 30 kilometers from the Preah Vihear Temple.

At least six people from both sides were killed, including civilians. Two Thai soldiers were killed and five more injured during the fire exchange. In addition, a 50-year-old resident of Phum Srol village was killed by artillery while leading his family to a shelter.

Furthermore, at least seven buildings, including a school, were hit by artillery shells fired by Cambodian soldiers. Three houses were set on fire as well. Death toll might increase soon as official reports have not been disclosed.

Both countries blamed each other for the conflict. For a long time, Thailand and Cambodia have been fighting over territory near the 11th-century Preah Vihear Temple.

PM Vejjajiva said that Thai soldiers fired warning shots but Cambodian soldiers ignored them and opened fire at them which initiated the armed conflict. However, Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said otherwise.

According to Siphan, Thai soldiers crossed approximately 500 meters into Cambodian territory and opened fire first despite efforts of Cambodian troops to avoid violence. He added that they responded fire in self-defense.

Cambodia informed that least two civilians and one soldier died after Thai artillery struck the Cambodian side. In addition, border troops detained four Thai soldiers during the fighting.

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