Thursday, 3 March 2011

Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple sees no tourists since recent deadly clashes

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, March 2 (Xinhua) -- There has been no tourist visiting Preah Vihear temple, a World Heritage site, in February due to the deadly clashes on Feb. 4-7 between Cambodian and Thai troops over the border disputed areas next to the temple, said officials on Wednesday.

"It was the worst month for tourists, it was recorded that the temple saw no even a visitor in February," Kong Vibol, chief of tourism department in Preah Vihear province, told Xinhua by telephone.

"They're scared to visit the temple; they worry about their own safety," he said. "I believe that it will take loner time to encourage them to visit the temple."

He said that before the military clashes occurred, in January, the temple received 13,443 Cambodians and 690 foreign visitors.

Hang Soth, general director of the Preah Vihear National Authority, said Wednesday that policemen have returned to protect tourists at the temple since last week.

"We have opened the temple for tourists just a week after the military clashes, but they don't go to visit," he said.

"Since the clashes, there have been only charitable groups and high-ranking officials bringing food and cash-gifts to donate to soldiers and their families near the temple."

The four-day clash unleashed a barrage of artillery shells on both sides of the border and killed and wounded soldiers and people of both sides. Tens of thousands of the two countries' villagers nearby the disputed areas fled for safe shelters.

The conflict has occurred just a week after the inscription due to Thai claim of the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the temple, since then periodic clashes have happened between the two nations' troops, resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

Editor: Wang Yan

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