Oddar Meanchey and Phnom Penh Thursday, 28 April 2011
Photo: by Heng Reaksmey
This three year old girl , Cha Sith, was injured during the shelling.
“Then an artillery shell hit the village and injured my hands.”
Cambodian officials said Thursday military commanders had agreed to a ceasefire, following a meeting on the border in Oddar Meanchey province, the site of heavy fighting this week.
The proposed ceasefire was announced Thursday afternoon by the Cambodian Defense Ministry following meetings between Cambodian general Chea Mon and Thai general Thawatchai Samutsakorn.
The military commanders met at the O’smach border checkpoint following the seventh straight day of fighting that has killed at least 14 people and sent tens of thousands fleeing their homes on both sides.
In Thailand, officials were careful not to announce an official ceasefire.
But according to the Cambodian Defense Ministry, the two sides agreed to immediately halt weapons fire, to keep troops in place without redeployments, and to create “a favorable environment for the civilians to return to their villages so as to win each other’s trust,” among other initiatives.
“Now, the Cambodian side has had a press conference on the ceasefire in Cambodia,” Thai Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd told VOA in Bangkok. “Although Thailand has not received any official information on this, in Thailand there are clear responsibilities and orders of responsibility within the government and relative agencies about how a ceasefire should be addressed. However, on the Cambodian side there needs to be consultations with their superiors and especially the top person: that’s Prime Minister Hun Sen himself.”
Sansern said that all Thai troops were now holding in Thai territory.
Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed a ceasefire on the Cambodian side, but he said there were so far no talks scheduled between the countries’ foreign or defense ministers.
The ceasefire plan came after shelling overnight and into the morning. Three villagers were injured when a Thai artillery shell hit their village in Kouk Mon commune, Banthey Ampil district.
“Around 7:30 am, my family and I were packing to escape the village,” Chhum Souk, 54, said at the provincial hospital in Samraong town shortly after the explosion. “Then an artillery shell hit the village and injured my hands.”
A 3-year-old girl, his neighbor, was also injured, along with another man nearby.
Meanwhile, more villagers continued to stream in from the borders, joining thousands of refugees who have been staying in tents under trees and in pagodas and school classrooms in the town.
After the ceasefire talks, no more bombardments were heard in the area, and electricity returned to normal. Residents of Samraong said earlier that during clashes electricity, which is supplied from Thailand, was often cut.