Sunday, 6 March 2011

Cambodia fortifying presence, says army

via CAAI

Published: 5/03/2011
Newspaper section: News

Cambodia is deploying artillery and more forces around the Preah Vihear temple and the nearby Phu Makhua mountain, prompting Thailand to plan a show of force to discourage its neighbour from possible attacks, according to army sources.

The sources yesterday said Cambodian soldiers have installed artillery at Preah Vihear in addition to earlier deploying multi-barrel rockets. They have also apparently placed artillery on Phu Makhua mountain.

Meanwhile, Thai soldiers yesterday resumed building a laterite road from Pha Mor I Dang cliff to Sa Trao, an ancient reservoir situated on the northern axis of Preah Vihear where Thai border patrol police had been stationed.

The road will be two kilometres long. Thai soldiers had completed 70% of the road but border clashes on Feb 4 brought the construction of the road to a halt.

Army sources said Cambodia was afraid that Thai soldiers would use the laterite road to reach Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda, which is in the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area and occupied by Cambodian troops.

The sources said Thai soldiers built the road in response to Cambodian soldiers' completion of two more roads to serve its reinforcements in the disputed area.

"Today, bosses ordered us to resume the road construction and be fully prepared to cope with an attack. Thai soldiers are prepared in case Cambodian soldiers start shooting. The next clash could be more violent than the past ones," a source said yesterday.

Cambodian soldiers monitored the Thai road construction yesterday and have so far taken no action.

In response to Cambodian reinforcements with both heavy weaponry and soldiers at the Preah Vihear temple and Phu Makhua, Thailand's Suranaree Task Force will conduct a drill there next week.

Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and Thai army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said Thailand has encouraged Cambodia to organise the 8th General Border Committee (GBC) meeting this month to conduct bilateral talks to relieve border conflicts.

However, he said Cambodia has not responded.

"Cambodia has not yet replied to our request. We want the meeting to be held soon so we can talk about deployments of troops along the border and cooperation in various fields," Gen Prawit said.

The previous GBC meeting was held in Pattaya in November.

Cambodia will host the 8th meeting of the GBC, which is co-chaired by Gen Prawit and his Cambodian counterpart Gen Tea Banh.

The two countries also need to discuss arrangements for Indonesian observers, representing the Asean chair, to visit the border area.

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