Friday, 4 March 2011

Cambodia takes military attaches of 12 countries to see damages of Preah Vihear temple

via CAAI

PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia, March 3 (Xinhua) -- A group of military attaches of 12 countries on Thursday paid a two-hour visit to Preah Vihear temple and surrounding areas to see the damages caused by mortar and artillery shelling during the deadly clashes early last month between the Cambodian and Thai troops.

The team of military attaches from 12 embassies in Phnom Penh included the United States, France, Russia, China, Japan, Canada, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, New Zealand, Malaysia and Australia.

Cambodian four-star general Neang Phat, secretary of state of the Ministry of Defense, led the group during the visit.

The group was welcomed at the temple by four-star general Chea Dara, deputy commander-in-chief of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces for Preah Vihear Direction, and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen' s eldest son Hun Manet, deputy commander of the Headquarters of Infantry.

"Cambodia wanted the military attaches to see with their own eyes the damages caused by Thai shelling in the recent war," Chea Dara said during the delegation visit.

He has ushered the delegation to see craters, cracks, broken pieces of Preah Vihear temple caused by Thai artillery shelling.

"At the behest of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodian troops vow to defend our territory from any invasion of Thailand," he said.

"Cambodia has never invaded into other countries, we want a border of peace and cooperation, but if they invade into ours, we have to exercise self-defense rights."

The visit followed a similar visit by military attachs to the Thai side of the border on Feb. 21, organized by Thai Defense Ministry.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday that 414 shells of mortar and artillery fired by Thai troops which had fallen on the temple in the war on Feb. 4-7.

Cambodia and Thailand have had border conflict just a week after Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as the World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.

The conflict is due to Thai claim of the ownership of 4.6 sq km of scrub next to the temple, which resulted in 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.

The latest clashes on Feb. 4-7, with a barrage of artillery shells unleashed on both sides of the border, had claimed the lives of soldiers and civilians on both sides and also caused tens of thousands of the two countries' villagers near the disputed areas fleeing for safe shelters.

Editor: Lu Hui

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