ARMY ENCOURAGED, BUT CLASHES CONTINUE
Published: 1/05/2011 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News
The military believes the situation on the Thai-Cambodian border is improving despite fighting continuing on the border near Surin for a ninth day.
Second Army Region spokesman Prawit Hookaew said that although the clashes have not yet ended, encouragement can be taken from the fact that the exchanges of gunfire have lessened in intensity and heavy weapons have not been deployed in the past few days.
He said only small and mortar guns have been used since military delegations from both sides held talks on Thursday.
In the latest skirmishes, two Thai soldiers were injured yesterday afternoon near Ta Kwai temple in the border area of Surin.
Fighting on Friday night and yesterday left 11 Thai soldiers wounded, bringing the total injury toll for Thai soldiers to 97, while seven soldiers and one civilian have been killed.
According to the Second Army, two Cambodian BM21 multiple rocket launchers were destroyed and a number of their soldiers were killed during the clashes.
Col Prawit said that Thailand contacted Cambodia after the latest skirmishes broke out and was told that some troops were not following orders.
"They promise to look into this to avoid further incidents," said Col Prawit.
It is reported that troops under Special Force 911 and a number of those who are not under the control of Lt Gen Chea Mon refused to hold fire.
Special Force 911 is a highly trained armed unit under the command of army deputy commander Hun Manet, son of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Col Prawit said he had heard a report of Cambodia recruiting more troops and urging those who are relatives of former Khmer Rouge guerrillas to join the army.
Thai military spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd said yesterday the overall situation is considered to be "improving" despite the continued fighting.
"At first there were rocket-propelled grenades and artillery shelling for hours. Now it is just sporadic fighting with small guns," he said.
He maintained the stance that a complete ceasefire must be sustained before further talks can proceed.
A border source said that Lt Gen Hun Manet has offered a house and a five-rai plot of land to those who join the Cambodian effort.
The recruitment drive was announced in the Cambodian areas of Samrong, Anlong Veng, Oddar Meanchey and O-Smach, which were once controlled by Khmer Rouge guerrillas.
The source said that more than 100 Cambodian troops with close links to former Khmer Rouge guerrillas have fled those areas.
Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to the foreign minister, said the government has formed a three-man team to counter Cambodia's petition to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the border dispute around Preah Vihear temple.
Cambodia said it was seeking the ICJ's interpretation "in order to peacefully and definitely settle the boundary problem between the two countries".
Mr Chavanond said it would be some time before the ICJ decides whether or not to accept Cambodia's petition.
The 5th national blood centre in Nakhon Ratchasima is in short supply of blood and is pleading for donations.
Staff member Sirilak Piakkhunthod said the centre faces a severe shortage because the national blood centre in Bangkok has sent its supply to Surin.
Surin Hospital has needed 60-80 bags of blood per day since the border clashes erupted.
Ms Sirilak said the centre usually receives 60 bags of blood daily from Bangkok but is currently receiving only 10 bags a day.
The 5th national blood centre supplies blood to hospitals in Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum, Buri Ram and Surin provinces.
In Buri Ram, a large number of border villagers who were evacuated after the fighting erupted returned home during the day to tend to their farms.
During the day, about 4,000 evacuees were left at the centre, most of them women, children and the elderly.
More than 9,000 residents from Ban Kruat and Prakhon Chai districts sought shelter at nine temporary centres when the clashes broke out on April 22.
District authorities said yesterday the shelters would remain open until the last evacuee returned home.