Friday, 11 February 2011

Task force denies Thai troops used cluster bombs

via CAAI

Published: 11/02/2011

The Suranaree Task Force has strenuously denied an accusation that Thai troops used cluster bombs during the border clashes with Cambodia.

Chinnakaj Rattanajitti, the task force's field spokesman, said yesterday the allegation that cluster bombs were used was misinformation.

The Cambodian government's demining agency, Cambodia Mine Action Centre, claimed earlier this week that its staff had discovered the controversial bomblets in Cambodian territory near the Preah Vihear temple following the clashes with Thailand that began last week, leaving at least eight people dead.

The Thai officer said the military strictly followed the rules of engagement and other related United Nations charters.

"No such weapon is used. It is not part of military operations," Col Chinnakaj said.

Cluster bombs, launched from the ground or dropped from the air, split open before impact to scatter multiple bomblets over a wide area. Such bomblets often lie dormant for years before exploding, maiming or killing civilians who happen upon them.

Col Chinnakaj yesterday warned residents of violence-torn villages to be careful about chemicals from rocket fragments when they cleaned up.

He said some villagers and troops suffered blisters after they came into contact with chemicals from the fragments of rockets fired from BM21 launchers by Cambodian troops.

He said the Thailand Mine Action Centre had been asked to collect shrapnel from the rockets and artillery shells for examination.

Meanwhile, the air force yesterday admitted that fighter jets taking part in the Cobra Gold exercise flew too close to the border during a drill.

Two F16 fighters were spotted yesterday afternoon near the border in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district where border tensions remain high.

Fighter jets should not fly within 10km of the border under the rules of engagement.

Air force chief-of-staff Prajin Jantong said there was a misunderstanding about the flight plans by the participating countries.

He said the fighter jets did not cross the border or enter the 4.6 square kilometre area and were alerted as soon as they neared the border.

About 50 fighter jets from the US, Thailand and Singapore are taking part in the annual exercise which is based at Wing 1 in Nakhon Ratchasima.

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