By The Nation on Sunday
Published on May 1, 2011
Flare-up triggered by delay in informing units of ceasefire
Ten more Thai soldiers were injured in the Thai-Cambodian border clashes in Surin's Phanom Dongrak district on Friday night until yesterday morning, bringing the cumulative Thai casualties to seven deaths and 95 injuries in the nine days of clashes.
Among the four injured soldiers from Friday night's clash, First-Lieutenant Kosit Songsaengkajorn suffered severe shrapnel wounds to his neck and back and was transferred to Phramongkutklao Hospital in Bangkok, while others were airlifted to the Surin Centre Hospital and Weerawat Yothin Army Camp Hospital the same night. Six other soldiers were injured on Saturday morning.
The border clash reoccurred despite the fact that a ceasefire was agreed by Thai and Cambodian field commanders.
Second Army spokesman Prawit Hookaew said that the Cambodian side explained that it was because "some units weren't yet informed [of the ceasefire]" and "there were some rogue soldiers".
He also declared a hint of a silver lining in that the reoccurring clashes so far utilised light weapons only.
This showed that field officers could still talk to each other and limit the fighting.
Since Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen declared that he wouldn't negotiate at all levels and would only table the issue at the Asean level - and announced that Cambodia was ready to go to war against Thailand - the Thai Army has remained cautious and was following the situation closely, he said.
Prawit also revealed that Cambodia had sent more backups to the clash area and reportedly recruited more fighters, especially former Khmer Rouge soldiers and their children.
"We haven't yet sent more back-up soldiers, [but] it wouldn't take a long time to send back-ups because most of the manpower are already in the Second Army area. We're using force only to defence our territory," he said adding that 36 out of the injured 95 soldiers already asked to be reinstated in the field.
Thai Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd commented that the Cambodian side admitted that there might be some stress in the areas that the ceasefire order haven't reached yet - hence the fighting wasn't completely halted.
But gunfire erupted lightly on and off and Thai troops just counter-fired. He said they would try to get the ceasefire in place first before negotiations at other levels could take place.
Meanwhile, the Second Army Area bomb squad had cleared some 70 per cent of the grenades fired from Cambodia to Thai villages.
As several schools in Surin were currently functioning as shelters to villagers, the Education Ministry inspector Supakorn Wongprat said he would initially arrange a Bt500,000 budget allocation to help these schools with water, electricity and other expenses. He said he would also have non-formal education teachers teach students at the shelters so the students could later catch up with their lessons, as the school term will open in mid-May.
In Buri Ram, some male evacuees yesterday returned to their homes near the clash site in hopes that the border fighting would stop soon, bringing the number of evacuees in nine shelters of Ban Kruat and Prakhon Chai districts down from 9,000 to some 4,000.