Published: Feb. 16, 2011
BANGKOK, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Five Thai soldiers were wounded, one seriously, during fighting that flared again near an ancient temple in a disputed border area with Cambodia.
Thai military sources said Cambodian soldiers attacked their post near Phu Ma Khua, close to the frontier and the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple.
The skirmish is the latest this month between to two armies that have faced off in the area for 40 years or more.
Last week in separate incidents, eight people died, including Thai soldiers, when the armies exchanged artillery and gun fire. Cambodia reported five civilians dead and 45 injured.
The disputed land -- less than 2 square miles -- contains the temple, a World Heritage Site in the Dangrek Mountains 300 miles east of Bangkok on Cambodia's northern border.
The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple was on Cambodian land but the only access to the mountaintop structure is on the Thai side, a route that Thai troops occasionally seal off.
Cambodia managed to get the temple listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, much to the annoyance of Bangkok.
Around 2,000 troops from both sides are stationed across from each other on border patrol. Cross-border incidents occasionally flare up, such as in October 2008 when two Cambodian troops died and seven Thai troops were wounded in a gun battle lasting an hour.
After the first fighting this month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply concerned" about the latest skirmishes and called on both sides to "exercise maximum restraint."
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called on the United Nations to set up a buffer zone in its disputed frontier with Thailand. He wanted the United Nations to intervene to "stop the invasion by Thailand" and for the U.N. Security Council to meet to discuss the conflict, a statement read out state-run television said.
Thailand rejected any U. N. peacekeeping force in the area, as did the United Nations, which said troops would be sent in only if both sides were in agreement and they were part of bilateral cooperation between the two sides.
This week Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva reiterated his hope that Cambodia would resume working with Thailand through the Joint Boundary Committee and Joint Committee on Thai-Cambodian cooperation.
"It shows that the international community wants both sides to use bilateral talks to end the conflict," Abhisit said in a statement read out on Thai state television. "Therefore Cambodia has no reason to reject (the talks). We should return to the talks."