Sunday, 1 May 2011

Thai-Cambodia border tense

via CAAI

Published: April 30, 2011

PHANOM DONG RAK, Thailand (AFP) - Heavy weapons fire pounded the Thai-Cambodian border for an eighth day Friday as Bangkok denied claims from Phnom Penh of a truce to end the countries' bloodiest conflict in decades.

The Cambodian defence ministry announced a peace deal on Friday, after clashes on the disputed jungle frontier shattered a previous short-lived ceasefire.

Thailand's government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn confirmed discussions between commanders on the ground but said no deal had been reached.

"We actually have talked at local officers' level which I hope will lead to a real ceasefire," he said. He added the country was "disappointed" with a resumption of fighting after Thursday's truce, in which one Thai soldier was killed and six more wounded.

Clashes around two ancient temple complexes have now left 16 people dead and caused about 85,000 people to flee from their homes. Cambodian field commander Suos Sothea told AFP on Friday evening that the situation was "calm so far but we are still on alert". He added that he remained wary of Thai troops "because they talk but they keep attacking us".

According to the Cambodian statement, commanders from both sides agreed Friday to "a cessation of the firing" as well as to halt troop movements. They also "promised to meet in person or be in contact over the phone" every two days to prevent further skirmishes, it added. Colonel Preeda Butraj, a spokesman for the Thai army in the country's northeast, dismissed Cambodia's truce claims as "unreliable and untrustworthy".

"We have to wait and see what the situation is like day by day," he said.

Each side has blamed the other for sparking the fighting, which has stopped and started periodically over the past week.

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