Saturday, 5 February 2011

PM: Thai troops protecting sovereignty


via CAAI

Published: 5/02/2011
The border clash between Thai and Cambodia troops near Phu Ma Khua area of Si Sa Ket yesterday and this morning occurred because Thai soldiers have to protect the country’s sovereignty, Prime Minister Abhisit Said on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Abhisit said this after the meeting of heads of security and foreign affairs agencies held earlier at Government House to discuss the border clash.

The meeting was attended by Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti.

The prime minister insisted that Thailand has never invaded its neighbour’s territory as claimed. He called on Thai people to support the armed forces in protecting the country’s sovereignty.

He said the Foreign Ministry will soon issue a statement providing correct information about the military clash at Thai-Cambodian border for the international community, foreign diplomats, the United Nations Organisation and the World Heritage Committee.

Thailand, Cambodia end bloody battle

via CAAI

Sat Feb 5, 2011
A house burns in a Thai village near an 11th-century Preah Vihear temple at the border between Thailand and Cambodia on February 4.

Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to negotiate to put an end to border clashes near a disputed 11th-century temple that killed at least four people.

"Thailand and Cambodia have agreed on a ceasefire and both sides will not reinforce their troops," Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd, a Thai army spokesman, told AFP.

A Cambodian general also confirmed that the two sides had met in a border town to resolve the dispute. He said, however, the "situation right now is still tense."

Gunfights broke out early Saturday between the armies of the two countries near the Preah Vihear temple. Both sides have blamed the other for the fighting.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong also sent a letter to the UN Security Council Saturday to protest Thailand's "flagrant aggression."

The Thai Foreign Ministry also accused Cambodia of engaging in "an act of aggression," saying the Cambodian forces had violated “Thai sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Kaewkamnert said that one Thai soldier lost his life during Saturday's clashes and four others sustained injuries.

Reports say two Cambodian soldiers and one Thai villager were among the victims of the skirmish.

The fighting damaged the temple and forced thousands of people to flee.

The temple, which is perched on a cliff on the border, has been disputed by the two countries for several decades.

DB/TG/HRF

Asean hopes to mediate


via CAAI

Published: 5/02/2011

The deteriorating situation along the Thai-Cambodian border is undermining confidence in Asean and affecting economic recovery, tourism and investment prospect in the region, said Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in his urgent message to the two ASEAN Member States now trading fires with casualties on both sides.

"I am deeply concerned about the serious situation on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. This violent conflict must be brought under control and return to negotiating table soonest," said Dr. Surin.

The violent conflict started with gun fire and artillery duels mid afternoon Friday near the Preah Vihear temple. While the International Court of Justice decided in favor of Cambodia in 1962, the areas adjacent to the Temple remain under dispute.

"I have been in touch with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cambodia Hor Namhong, and the Foreign Minister of Thailand, Kasit Piromya, and I have appealed for calm, maximum restraint on both sides, and expressed my fervent desire to see both sides return to a negotiating table as soon as possible, said the Asean Secretary-General.

Dr Surin Pitsuwan also called both sides to allow Asean to help bring them to some form of a temporary truce and cool down the emotions and temper so that a higher interest of both peoples and that of Asean can be protected and enhanced.

"The situation has escalated into open conflict. And that will definitely affect our economic development, confidence in our region, and tourism and prospect for foreign investment, which have just been picking up in light of the world economic recovery," said Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, who is a former Foreign Minister of Thailand.

Diplomatic sources said Indonesia, the current chair of Asean, is also stepping up its diplomatic efforts to help the two sides arrive at a temporary solution so as to allow the bilateral mechanisms between them to accomplish their objectives of border demarcation and a general peace in the areas.

"I understand both sides now welcome some form of mediation by the Asean leadership," Surin said, without elaborating.

Factbox: Preah Vihear temple, a lightening rod for Thai-Cambodia

via CAAI

Sat Feb 5, 2011 2:58am EST

(Reuters) - Fighting broke out between Thai and Cambodian soldiers on Friday and Saturday along a disputed stretch of their border, near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple.

By Saturday afternoon, both sides had reached a ceasefire.

Following are facts about the site:

-- Completed in the 11th century, Preah Vihear pre-dates Cambodia's more famous Angkor Wat temple complex by 100 years. Many say its stunning setting atop a jungle-clad escarpment overlooking northern Cambodia also eclipses its celebrated cousin as the finest of all the ruins left by the mighty Khmer civilization.

-- Officially part of Cambodia since a 1962 World Court ruling, Preah Vihear, or Khao Phra Viharn as the Thais call it, has been accessible mainly only from Thailand. From Cambodia, landmines and Khmer Rouge guerrillas kept it off-limits for decades. Even after Pol Pot's forces surrendered in 1998, the track up the 600 meter Dangrek escarpment is so steep and pot-holed it's passable only by motorbike or heavy-duty four-wheel drive. After rain, you can forget it altogether.

-- The temple has stirred nationalist passions on both sides for generations. In the run-up to the 1962 World Court ruling, Thailand's military government organized a fundraiser in which every citizen donated 1 baht to pay for Bangkok's legal team at The Hague. It was Cambodia's bid last year to list the ruins as a World Heritage Site that sparked a flare-up in tensions. One Thai and three Cambodian soldiers died in a firefight last October.

-- Preah Vihear has witnessed its fair share of bloodshed.The Khmer Rouge occupied the site for years, and rusting artillery pieces can still be found lying amid the ruins. In June 1979, Thai soldiers forced 45,000 refugees from Pol Pot's "Killing Fields" to descend the heavily mined escarpment back into Cambodia. "Several thousand died, either shot by Thai soldiers to prevent them trying to cross back, or blown up in the minefields," British historian Philip Short wrote in a seminal biography of Pol Pot.

(Editing by Jason Szep; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

Cambodia, Thailand military commanders meet to find way to end clashes

via CAAI

English.news.cn
2011-02-05

UDOR MEANCHEY, Cambodia, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian and Thai military commanders on Saturday began here negotiations at 10:40 a.m. over the military clashes took place twice at the border area near the 11th century temple on Friday afternoon and Saturday early morning.

The negotiation was held between Cambodian Commander of Military Division 3, Major General Srey Doek and Thai Major - General Chawalit Chunprasan, commander of Thai military region 2, in a restaurant at Chorm Sra Ngam border checkpoint in Anglong Veng district of Udor Meanchey province, in a bit to find ways to prevent future military conflicts.

The meeting was held after deadly military clashes twice on Friday afternoon and on Saturday early morning at the border near Preah Vihear Temple.

During the skirmishes, troops from both sides had exchanged fire of heavy weapons including rockets, machine guns, mortars and artillery.

Chan Sovanchay, a military official stationed at Preah Vihear Temple told Xinhua by telephone on Saturday that during the clash on Friday afternoon, two Cambodians were killed (one soldier and one tourist), and 22 were wounded, and the clash on Saturday morning caused five Cambodian troops seriously injured by Thai troops'shrapnel.

"The one hour clash in Saturday morning happened due to Thai troops invaded into Cambodian territory to carry the corpses of their Thai soldiers killed in Cambodian territory on Friday afternoon's clash," he said.

However, he added that he did not know how many Thai troops were killed in the two clashes, "I just saw that several corpses of Thai troops had been carried out of Cambodian territory by their fellow soldiers."

According to the statement issued by the Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in late Friday, "the aggression by Thai armed forces on Feb. 4 was also followed by firing of many 130 mm and 155 mm artillery shells which reached as far as 20 kilometers inside Cambodian territory."

"The attack caused many seriously damages to the temple of Preah Vihear, a world heritage, as well as death and injury of more than ten Cambodian troops and villagers," said the statement.

It added that "facing this flagrant aggression, Cambodian troops had no option, but to retaliate in self defense and in order to safeguard Cambodia's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Both sides have been blaming the other of launching the fire first.

The border between Thailand and Cambodia has never been completely demarcated and the issue of Preah Vihear temple has been an age-old dispute. Although the Internal Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple itself belonged to Cambodia, the row over land plot of 4.6 square kilometers around the temple has never been resolved. And the two sides have clashed over the border in the past with several deaths on both sides since 2008.

Editor: Lu Hui

Clashes on Thai-Cambodian border claim another life

via CAAI

By South East Asia correspondent Zoe Daniel

There has been more deadly fighting between Thai and Cambodian troops near a disputed temple on the border between the two countries.

One Thai soldier was killed and four more were injured in a fresh clash this morning after a number of soldiers and villagers on both sides of the border were killed in artillery fire yesterday.

It is the first major skirmish in the area around the Preah Vihear temple in almost a year and both sides have since declared a ceasefire.

The world heritage site has been declared part of Cambodia but its ownership is disputed by Thai nationalists.

Tensions have increased this week after two prominent Thais who visited the site were convicted of espionage.

Artillery fire in the last 24 hours has hit villages and terrified local people who have been forced to flee.

Cambodia's foreign minister, Hor Namhong, wrote to the United Nations to draw its attention to the "explosive situation at the border."

In a letter addressed to UN Security Council president Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, he blamed the fighting on "flagrant aggression" by Thai troops.

He said "Cambodian troops had no option but to retaliate in self-defence".

However, he did not explicitly call for UN intervention.

Cambodia Sends Letter To U.N Security Council On Border Clash

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, Feb 5 (Bernama) -- Cambodia has sent a letter on Saturday to the United Nations Security Council informing that Thailand had entered Cambodia and attacked Cambodian troops, reports China's Xinhua news agency.

In a letter dated Feb 5, was sent to Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, president of the UNSC, Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong, saying that on Friday, between 3 to 5 pm, about 300 Thai troops entered Cambodian territory and attacked Cambodian troops at three locations.

"This aggression by Thai armed forces was also followed by firing of many 130 mm and 155 mm artillery shells which reached as far as about 20 km inside Cambodian territory. The attack caused many serious damages to the Temple of Preah Vihear, a world heritage, as well as death and injury of more than ten Cambodian troops and villagers," the letter said.

And facing this flagrant aggression, Cambodian troops had no option, but to retaliate in self-defense and in order to safeguard Cambodia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, the letter added.

Hor Namhong said in the letter that the repeated acts of aggression against Cambodia by Thailand violate the Judgment of International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 15 June, 1962; article 2.3, 2.4, and 94.1 of the United Nations' Charter; the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia, Article 2 in which Cambodia and Thailand are parties; and Article 2.2.c, 2.2.d, of the Paris Peace Accord in 1991.

Hor Namhong asked president of the UNSC to circulate this letter to all members of the United Nations Security Council as an official document.

As of Saturday, two rounds of fighting were erupted near Preah Vihear Temple, and the number of casualties remained conflicting between the two sides.

Kasit Piromya, Thai foreign minister said Friday evening that Thailand will also inform other parties including UNESCO on the border incident.

While situation remained tense at the border by Saturday lunch time, military commanders are holding meeting to defuse the tension.

Both sides have been blaming the other of launching the fire first.

The relations between Thailand and Cambodia had been strained recently over the territorial dispute as Cambodia refused to remove its national flag from the front of Wat Keo Sikha Kiri Svarak pagoda, which is located in the contentious areas of 4.6 square kilometers (1.8 square miles) around the Preah Vihear temple.

The border between Thailand and Cambodia has never been completely demarcated and the issue of ancient temple has been an age-old dispute. Although the International Court of Justice in 1962 awarded the temple itself to Cambodia, the row over land plot of 4.6 square kilometers surrounding the temple have never been solved.

Thailand, Cambodia agree border ceasefire

 via CAAI

Posted: 05 February 2011

BANGKOK: Thailand and Cambodia have negotiated an end to fighting at their border on Saturday following renewed clashes around a disputed temple, both armies confirmed.
Cambodian soldiers stand guard near the Cambodian and Thai border at Anglong Veng district in Odar Meanchey province

Military commanders from both sides met for talks in a border town some distance from the 11th-century temple after gunfights broke out briefly early Saturday. At least three people have been killed so far in the fighting.

"Thailand and Cambodia have agreed a ceasefire and both sides will not reinforce their troops," Thai army spokesman, Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd, told AFP.

A Cambodian general also confirmed the end to hostilities, but added that the "situation right now is still tense".

Both countries have accused the other of starting the latest violence and using heavy weapons such as mortars, rockets and artillery.

Earlier on Saturday, Cambodia's Foreign Minister wrote to the United Nations on Saturday, drawing its attention to the "explosive" situation on the border with Thailand, where three people have died in two days of fighting.

"I would like to draw your attention to the explosive situation at the border," said the letter addressed to UN Security Council president Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti.

The letter accused Thailand of starting the fighting, but did not explicitly ask for UN intervention.

"Facing this flagrant aggression, Cambodian troops had no option but to retaliate in self-defence," it reads.

Thailand, which convened an urgent security meeting on Saturday afternoon, has said it was also considering filing a complaint to the UN.

The United States urged both sides to exercise "maximum restraint".

Thailand has accused Cambodia of shelling a village, while Cambodia said Thai armed forces had fired artillery shells about 20 kilometres inside Cambodian territory.

Cambodia said the fighting had caused "serious" damage to the ancient Preah Vihear temple, which was granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008 straining ties between the neighbours.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear itself belonged to Cambodia, although its main entrance lies in Thailand and the 4.6-square-kilometre area around the temple is claimed by both sides.

The Thai-Cambodia border has never been fully demarcated partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

Thailand and Cambodia have been talking tough on the border issue, which some observers say serves nationalist goals at home on both sides.

URGENT: Cambodia, Thai troops exchange fire for 2nd straight day+

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 5 (AP) - (Kyodo)—Cambodian and Thai troops exchanged fire near a border temple for the second consecutive day Saturday morning, a Cambodian military spokesman said.

Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, told Kyodo News the fire exchange began at 6:15 a.m. and ended at 7 a.m. at Phnom Troap Mountain, about 2 kilometers west of Preah Vihear Temple, one of the spots where exchanges erupted Friday.

He said no casualties were reported from the Cambodian side in the latest incident, adding one more Thai soldier was arrested, bringing to five the total number of Thai soldiers arrested since fire exchanges began between the two armies Friday afternoon.

Thai soldier dies in fresh fighting at Cambodia border

via CAAI

Sat, Feb 05, 2011
AFP

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - A Thai soldier has been killed in clashes with Cambodian troops at the two countries' border, bringing the toll to three in the deadliest fighting between the neighbours in almost two years.

Renewed gunfights broke out briefly near a disputed 11th-century temple early on Saturday, officials on both sides said, just hours after earlier skirmishes left a Cambodian soldier and a Thai civilian dead.

"One Thai soldier was killed by shrapnel and four were injured in a clash lasting about 30 minutes early this morning," said Thai army spokesman Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd.

In a statement, the Cambodian government accused Thai troops of "firing mortar rounds into Cambodia's PreahVihear province".

A Cambodian military commander who did not wish to be named said that one Thai soldier had been captured in the morning skirmishes.

Clashes between the neighbours erupted for the first time in more than a year on Friday as simmering border tensions boiled over.

Six Thai and at least four Cambodian soldiers were also injured in the first bout of fighting, and four Thai troops were captured.

Cambodia has called the fighting an "invasion", while Thailand has branded it an "act of aggression" by its neighbour as both countries accused the other of starting the violence.

"The United States urges both sides to exercise maximum restraint and take all necessary steps to reduce tensions and avoid further conflict," said a a US State Department spokeswoman in response to Friday's clashes.

The Thai foreign ministry issued a statement early Saturday accusing Cambodia of attacking first, calling it a "clear violation" of Thai "territorial integrity".

Thailand claimed Cambodia fired mortars, rocket propelled grenades and artillery shells into Thai territory, and said three thousand civilians living along the border had to be evacuated.

The Cambodian foreign ministry released a similar statement about Friday's clashes, saying "300 Thai troops entered Cambodian territory and attacked Cambodian troops".

"This aggression by Thai armed forces was also followed by the firings of many 130mm and 155mm artillery shells which reached as far as about 20 kilometres (12 miles) inside Cambodian territory," it said.

The area around the temple is claimed by both sides, and Cambodian foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Phnom Penh planned to complain to the United Nations on Saturday.

Ties between the two countries have been strained since July 2008 by a series of deadly border clashes over land surrounding the temple after it was granted UN World Heritage status.

Thailand and Cambodia have both been talking tough on the border issue, which some observers say serves nationalist goals at home on both sides.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear itself belonged to Cambodia, although its main entrance lies in Thailand. The exact boundary through the surrounding grounds remains in dispute.

The Thai-Cambodia border has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

Another border spat has focused on the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda, which is built in the disputed area. Thailand on Monday demanded that Cambodia remove its flag from the pagoda, which it said was "situated on Thai territory" -- a claim Cambodia vehemently rejects.

Tensions between the two countries have flared in recent weeks in the wake of the arrest of seven Thai nationals for illegal entry into Cambodia in late December.

Five of the group were given suspended sentences and have since returned to Thailand. The other two, high-profile nationalist activist Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary, were sentenced to lengthy jail terms for spying, in a case that has caused outrage among Thailand's influential "Yellow Shirts".

Hundreds of Yellow Shirt protesters have camped out around Government House in Bangkok since last week, demonstrating against its handling of the border dispute, and the group plans a larger rally on Saturday.

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press


via CAAI

Cambodia lodges complaint with U.N after Thai army resumes intense shelling into Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province, fighting ceases for now(Updated with Foreign Affairs ministry lodging complain with U.N, casualties of both sides, ICJ judgment of Preah Vihear)

PHNOM PENH, February 5, 2011 (AKP) – Cambodia’s ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation lodged complaint with the United Nations after Thai troops resumed firing mortar rounds into Phnom Trap hill of Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province early Saturday.

“Around 6:15 a.m Thai soldiers fired rounds of mortars at Cambodia’s Phnom Trap,” said the official who works for Press and Quick Reaction Unit (PRU) of the Office of the Council of Ministers.

The Thai shelling “at Phnom Trap hill lasted for about 20 minute,” said the ministry of foreign Affairs.

Military commanders of both sides agreed to hold talks at the border check point around noon on Saturday.

Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry also said that Thai forces have moved up to 1.6 km into Cambodia’s territory. The Thais launched 130 mm and 155 mm artillery barrage up to 20 km inside Cambodia.

“Their attacks have caused many serious damages to the Temple of Preah Vihear, a World Heritage, as well as death and injury of more than ten Cambodia’s troops and villagers were killed or wounded,” said the ministry’s statement, which petitioned to the President of the United Nations Security Council.

“Facing this flagrant aggression, Cambodian troops had no option, but to retaliate in self-defense and in order to safeguard Cambodia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the release.

At least 16 Thais have been reportedly killed, including civilians. Cambodia also captured 5 Thai soldiers including 4 in the battle on Friday, said the officials.

Since UNESCO listed the Temple of Preah Vihear as World Heritage Site on 7 July 2008, and prior to Friday’s clashes, Thailand had committed to several acts of aggression against Cambodia on three occasion; 15 July 2008, 15 October 2008, and 3 April 200 in the areas of the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda, Veal Entry, Phom Trap hill and Ta Sem of all which are in the vicinity of the Temple of Preah Vihear, said the ministry.

The repeated acts of aggression against Cambodia by Thailand violated the following legal instruments;

1) The Judgment of International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 15 June, 1962

2) Article 2.3, 2.4, and 94.1 of the United Nations’ Charter

3) The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia, Article 2 in which Cambodia and Thailand are parties, provides for: Mutual respects for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identities of all nations; settlement of differences and disputes by peaceful means; renunciation of the threat or use of force.

4) The Agreement Concerning the Sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and inviolability, neutrality, and national unity of Cambodia, Article 2.2.c, 2.2.d, of the Paris Peace Accord in 1991.

Thai soldiers rushed into the buffer zone and moved up to 500meters into Cambodian territory at Phnom Trab, Sambok Khmum, Chak Chreng, Veal Intrei, Ta Thao, Ta Sem and fired vigorously into Cambodian forces defending sovereign Cambodian territory.

The Thai army also shelled the Cambodian village of Svay Chrum. Villagers from the Svay Chrum and the Eco-global Museum were evacuated to a safe zone in the wake of Thai artillery fire. Thai shells were fired deeper and deeper into Cambodia’s territory. Thai artillery bombardment has caused damages to the UNESCO heritage of Cambodia’s Preah Vihear temple, putting the 900-year-old temple in imminent danger of destruction.

Cambodian Army yesterday had battled to repel invading Thai forces at six locations well inside Cambodia’s territory near the U.N. listed Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple. The fighting had temporary ceased around 6 p.m on Friday.

The UN legal institution of International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962 ruled that: the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia.

The court found that Thailand is under obligation to withdraw any military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, stationed by her at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory.

Thailand is under an obligation to restore to Cambodia any objects of the kind specified in the Cambodia’s fifth submission which may, since the date of the occupation of the Temple by Thailand in 1954, have been removed from the Temple or the Temple area by the Thai authority, said the ICJ’s Judgment.

by Ek Madra (contributor)

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Letter to President of UN Security Council

Phnom Penh, February 5, 2011, AKP– As per reaction to latest Thai invasion against Cambodia’s territorial integrity, H.E Hor Nam Hong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has sent a letter to UN security Council with details as follows:

Click on picture to zoom in

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Clarificattion on VOA Article pertaing to Thai-Cambodia Border Issue

Cambodia’s Quick Reaction Unit wrote a letter to Voice of America on the latter’s article titled “Domestic Politics Drive Cambodia-Thai Border Dispute”. Here is the full text of the letter.



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Thai army resumes intense shelling into Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province, fighting ceases(updated with casualties of both sides, ICJ judgment of Preah Vihear)

PHNOM PENH, February 5, 2011, AKP– Thai troops resumed firing mortar rounds into Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province early Saturday into Cambodia’s location of Phnom Trap, killing one Cambodian solider and a civilian said Cambodia’s government officials.

“Around 6:15 a.m Thai soldiers fired rounds of mortars at Cambodia’s Phnom Trap,” said the official who works for Press and Quick Reaction Unit (PRU) of the Office of the Council of Ministers.

“The fighting ceased about 7 a.m,” he said.

Altogether more than 10 Cambodian soldiers and civilians were killed and wounded. At least 16 Thais have been reportedly killed, including civilians. Cambodia also captured 5 Thai soldiers including 4 in the battle on Friday, said the officials.

Thai soldiers rushed into the buffer zone and moved up to 500meters into Cambodian territory at Phnom Trab, Sambok Khmum, Chak Chreng, Veal Intrei, Ta Thao, Ta Sem and fired vigorously into Cambodian forces defending sovereign Cambodian territory.

The Thai army also shelled the Cambodian village of Svay Chrum. Villagers from the Svay Chrum and the Eco-global Museum were evacuated to a safe zone in the wake of Thai artillery fire. Thai shells were fired deeper and deeper into Cambodia’s territory. Thai artillery bombardment has caused damages to the UNESCO heritage of Cambodia’s Preah Vihear temple, putting the 900-year-old temple in imminent danger of destruction.

Cambodian Army yesterday had battled to repel invading Thai forces at six locations well inside Cambodia’s territory near the U.N. listed Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple. The fighting had temporary ceased around 6 p.m on Friday.

The UN legal institution of International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962 ruled that: the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia.

The court found that Thailand is under obligation to withdraw any military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, stationed by her at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory.

Thailand is under an obligation to restore to Cambodia any objects of the kind specified in the Cambodia’s fifth submission which may, since the date of the occupation of the Temple by Thailand in 1954, have been removed from the Temple or the Temple area by the Thai authority, said the ICJ’s Judgment.

by Ek Madra (contributor)

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update:Thai army resumes intense shelling into Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province, fighting ceases

PHNOM PENH, February 5, 2011, AKP– Thai troops resumed firing mortar rounds into Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province early Saturday into Cambodia’s location of Phnom Trap, said Cambodia’s government officials.
“Around 6:15 a.m Thai soldiers fired rounds of mortars at Cambodia’s Phnom Trap,” said the official who works for Press and Quick Reaction Unit (PRU) of the Office of the Council of Ministers. No casualties were immediately known.

“The fighting ceased about an hour ago,” he said.

Cambodian Army yesterday had battled to repel invading Thai forces at six locations well inside Cambodia’s territory near the U.N. listed Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple, the fighting had temporary ceased around 6 p.m on Friday.

by Ek Madra (contributor)

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Thai army Resumes Intense shelling into Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Province

PHNOM PENH, February 5, 2011,AKP– Thai troops resumed firing mortar rounds into Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province early Saturday into Cambodia’s location of Phnom Trap, said Cambodia’s government officials.

“Around 6:15 a.m Thai soldiers fired rounds of mortars at Cambodia’s Phnom Trap,” said the official who works for Press and Quick Reaction Unit (PRU) of the Office of the Council of Ministers. No casualties were immediately known.

“The fighting is still raging at the moment,” he said.

Cambodian Army yesterday had battled to repel invading Thai forces at six locations well inside Cambodia’s territory near the U.N. listed Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple, the fighting had temporary ceased around 6 p.m on Friday.

by Ek Madra (contributor)

______

Cambodia’s Official Reaction to Thai Aggressive Behavior

Phnom Penh, February 5, 2011, AKP–The aggressive act of the Thai troop has came under strong protest and condemnation.

Cambodia’s Ministry off Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has officially responded to the Thai behavior with the following statement :
Click on picture to zoom in

Thai soldier dies in fresh fighting at Cambodia border

http://news.smh.com.au/

via CAAI

Michelle Fitzpatrick
February 5, 2011

A Thai soldier was killed in clashes with Cambodian troops at the two countries' border, bringing the toll to three in the deadliest fighting between the neighbours in almost two years.

Renewed gunfights broke out briefly early in the morning on Saturday near a disputed 11th-century temple, officials on both sides said, just hours after skirmishes left a Cambodian soldier and a Thai civilian dead.

Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong wrote to the United Nations to draw its attention to the "explosive situation at the border."

Advertisement: Story continues below Blaming the fighting on "flagrant aggression" by Thai troops, he said "Cambodian troops had no option but to retaliate in self-defence", in a letter addressed to UN Security Council president Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti.

He did not explicitly call for UN intervention.

Thailand, which was to convene an urgent security meeting on Saturday afternoon to assess the situation, said it was also considering filing a complaint to the UN.

Clashes between the neighbours erupted for the first time in more than a year on Friday as simmering border tensions boiled over. Both countries have accused the other of starting the latest violence.

Ties between the two countries have been strained since July 2008 by a series of deadly border clashes over land surrounding the temple after it was granted UN World Heritage status.

The 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) area around the ancient temple is claimed by both sides.

In April 2009, two Cambodian soldiers and one Thai trooper were killed in a heavy gunbattle on the border as tensions spiked.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the two countries "should concentrate on how to end the conflict, which I believe was triggered by tension on both sides".

The United States urged both sides to exercise "maximum restraint".

Around 10 Thai and eight Cambodian soldiers have been injured so far, and Cambodian military sources claimed a total of five Thai troops had been captured, though Thailand denies this.

The Thai foreign ministry issued a statement accusing Cambodia of shelling a village, while Cambodia said Thai armed forces had fired artillery shells about 20 kilometres (12 miles) inside Cambodian territory.

Cambodia said the fighting had caused "serious" damage to the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

Thailand and Cambodia have been talking tough on the border issue, which some observers say serves nationalist goals at home on both sides.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear itself belonged to Cambodia, although its main entrance lies in Thailand. The exact boundary through the surrounding grounds remains in dispute.

The Thai-Cambodia border has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

Another border spat has focused on the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda, which is built in the disputed area. Thailand on Monday demanded that Cambodia remove its flag from the pagoda, which it said was "situated on Thai territory" -- a claim Cambodia vehemently rejects.

Tensions between the two countries have flared in recent weeks in the wake of the arrest of seven Thai nationals for illegal entry into Cambodia in late December.

Five of the group were given suspended sentences and have since returned to Thailand. The other two, high-profile nationalist activist Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary, were sentenced to lengthy jail terms for spying, in a case that has caused outrage among Thailand's influential "Yellow Shirts".

Thai deputy premier Suthep said the Yellows, who were expected to step up a protest outside Government House in Bangkok on Saturday, had worsened the conflict.

Yellow Shirts are a force to be reckoned with in Thailand's colour-coded politics and have helped to claim the scalps of three governments in under five years, including that of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

© 2011 AFP
This story is sourced direct from an overseas news agency as an additional service to readers. Spelling follows North American usage, along with foreign currency and measurement units.

Cambodian, Thai troops exchange fire again near Preah Vihear temple

via CAAI

English.news.cn
2011-02-05

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian and Thai troops at the Beehive area near Preah Vihear temple exchanged fire again on Saturday morning.

"The fighting between our Cambodian troops and Thai troops over the beehive area near the Preah Vihear temple has begun again at 6:15 a.m. this morning and lasted for more than an hour," said colonel Darun at Preah Vihear temple.

"Heavy weapons including rockets, machine guns and mortars, artillery have also been used in the exchange fire this morning," he said. One more Thai soldiers were captured in Saturday morning' s clash, bringing the arrested Thais to five.

No immediate report about the deaths and wounds in the clash this morning, he added.

This is the second military clash after the conflict on Feb. 4 between 15:00 to 17:00.

According to the statement issued by the Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in late Friday, the aggression by Thai armed forces on Feb. 4 was also followed by firing of many 130 mm and 155 mm artillery shells which reached as far as 20 kilometers inside Cambodian territory.

"The attack caused many seriously damages to the temple of Preah Vihear, a world heritage, as well as death and injury of more than ten Cambodian troops and villagers," said the statement.

Editor: Xiong Tong

News Feb. 4th 2011

News Feb. 4th 2011, Pt 1



News Feb. 4th 2011, Pt 2



News Feb. 3rd 2011

Statement from the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Please click on image to zoom in

Cambodia to Sue Thai Invasion at the United Nations


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Phnom Penh, February 4, 2011,AKP — Cambodia’s top diplomat affirms that the Royal Government of Cambodia will take legal recourse at the United Nations against Thailand for its army’s invading act on Cambodian territorial integrity.

H.E Hor Nam Hong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport in the evening of February 4 that Cambodia is prepared to seek justice at the United Nations over the Thai invasion against its territorial integrity. He was returning from Siem Reap where the 7th meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation was held between the governments of Cambodia and Thailand.

“Thai army fired artillery shells of 105 mm and 130 mm on to areas adjacent to Prea Vihear Temple and beyond it, as far as Sra Em village ,18 kilometers deep inside Cambodia’s territory ”, said H.E Hor Nam Hong.

On February 4, 2011 at around 3 pm (Cambodia time), an armed clash broke out for several hours after the Thai army marched forward as far as Keo Sekha Kiri Svara pagoda of Cambodia. In addition to fire shots of small arms, Thai artillery shells were pounded on several areas inside Cambodia’s territory.

By Kimseng

Cambodian and Thai Foreign Ministers Meet to Solve Border Dispute



http://english.ntdtv.com/

via CAAI

2011-02-04

The Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers met on Friday to discuss border issues including the fate of two Thai nationals charged with trespassing and spying.

The meeting, held in Siem Reap, aims at strengthening and expanding cooperation in all fields between the neighbors.

In the meeting, the two countries reached an agreement regarding the national flags that had been put up in their disputed border near the Preah Vihear Temple.

Thailand recently demanded that Cambodia remove flags from one pagoda, saying that the pagoda is on Thai territory.

Cambodia has denied Thailand's claims.

[Hor Namhong, Cambodian Foreign Minister]:
"I think the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda is in Cambodian territory so the pagoda have the full right to put the Cambodia flag in the pagoda and no problem for Cambodia to remove the flag from the pagoda."

The Thai foreign minister is planning to visit the two Thai nationals in prison in Phnom Penh, detained on trespassing and espionage charges.

He said the ministry's priority is to bring the two Thai nationals home, but would require Cambodia's cooperation.

Two die in Cambodia clash


VIA caai

Published: 5/02/2011

An uneasy ceasefire was holding at the border with Cambodia after fierce fighting left two dead and resulted in the capture of five Thai rangers.

 Houses at Ban Phum Saron in Si Sa Ket’s Kantaralak district burnt down when artillery landed in the village on the Thai-Cambodian border yesterday.

The two-hour clash between Thai and Cambodian troops near Phu Ma Khua area of Si Sa Ket yesterday killed at least two people - one Thai villager and one Cambodian soldier - and left several people injured.

Troops in nearby border provinces were placed on high alert as the capture of the five Thai rangers raised fears that the conflict could widen.

The five soldiers, who were based near Cambodia's Keo Sikha Kiri Savara pagoda, were detained by Cambodian troops.

The fighting included artillery exchanges and small arms fire, and partially destroyed communities on Thai soil.

The cross-border flare-up erupted about 3.15pm, a few hours after Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong met in Siem Reap and pledged to avoid violence in resolving border disputes.

Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith claimed the fighting erupted when Thai troops ignored warnings to stop crossing into its territory.

He said the Cambodians shot into the air and the Thai soldiers returned fire.

But Thailand disputed that account.

Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the clash was triggered by artillery rounds from the Cambodian side that fell on Thai territory.

"Cambodia didn't stop and started firing. We had to return fire," said Col Sansern shortly before the ceasefire.

Cambodia's artillery shells landed at Ban Non Chaeng and Ban Phum Saron villages, setting fire to four houses.

Charoen Pahom, a resident of Ban Phum Saron, was killed by artillery shells. Thai troops responded with heavy fire.


In Cambodia, privately owned Bayon TV reported that one Cambodian soldier was killed and five were wounded.

Shelling also damaged the roof of Ban Phum Saron school and the office of the tambon Sao Thong Chai administrative organisation. It also set part of the Keo Sikha Kiri Savara pagoda on fire.

Army commander Prayuth Chan-ocha said last night the shelling had now ceased and both sides are maintaining their positions.

Second Army Commander Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakhon, who is in charge of the border area, said: 'I don't want to say who started it because it will only prolong the issue. Let's say we both are doing what we're supposed to do."

Gen Prayuth said the fresh violence is likely to affect the World Heritage Committee's meeting called for June to discuss the development plan for the Preah Vihear temple, which is close to where the clash occurred.

Foreign Minister Kasit said the ministry will send a letter to Unesco and its member countries today calling on them to suspend any work involving the Thai-Cambodian border because any actions could intensify the conflict.

Mr Kasit said he held talks with senior Cambodian authorities after the clashes broke out, and both sides agreed to stop fighting.

'Both sides have agreed that we will try our best to avoid creating problems, but when a problem occurs, we have to end it as soon as possible," he said.

An army source said reinforcements of three battalions and heavy arms would be sent to the 4.6 square kilometre disputed area at the border. About 3,000 troops were deployed before the flare-up.

A source in the border area said the army's construction of a route and a bridge across a brook east of Pha Mor E-Daeng cliff has upset Cambodia.

Thai troops entered the area around noon yesterday.

Cambodia has claimed the area is in its territory and told the army to halt work, said the source.

The source said Cambodia is concerned that the route and the bridge will provide the Thai army with access to the Keo Sikha Kiri Savara pagoda and other sensitive areas.

The source said the area is part of the disputed territory and that Thai troops had occupied the area previously, but withdrew on Dec 1 last year.

According to the source, Cambodia had proceeded with construction of a 3.6-kilometre access road to Preah Vihear temple despite protests from Thailand that the work intruded on Thai soil.

Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh yesterday accused the Thai side of encroaching on Cambodian territory and violating an agreement.

An agreement reached by the Joint Boundary Commission states that construction cannot take place without a joint agreement.

"They [Thais] are saying that Cambodia started the shooting. We shouldn't focus on who started it, but on who violated the agreement," he said.

Thai army spokesman Col Sansern said the detention of the Thai soldiers might have stemmed from a misunderstanding.

"Those soldiers were sent to stand guard at a joint station with the Cambodians," he said.

Thai, Cambodian troops in deadly clash near temple


A Cambodian soldier inspect the corpse of a Thai soldier killed during the clash 4th Feb. 2011. Photo by Reuters and published by Paris Match.com.


via CAAI

By Ambika Ahuja Ambika Ahuja

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai and Cambodian soldiers exchanged fire in a two-hour border clash on Friday that killed two Cambodian soldiers and a Thai villager, the latest in an ancient feud over land surrounding a 900-year-old Hindu temple.

The fatalities were the first in the militarized border area since a Thai soldier was shot dead a year ago and could rekindle diplomatic tensions between the Southeast Asian neighbors over the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Cambodia would file a complaint with the U.N. Security Council, accusing Thailand of invading Cambodian territory.

Both sides accused each other of firing first in the 4.6-sq-km (two-sq-mile) disputed area around Preah Vihear, a jungle-clad escarpment claimed by both countries and scene of deadly, sporadic clashes in recent years.

Several Thai soldiers were also wounded and four Thai villages were evacuated, Thai media reported. Five Thai soldiers were captured, said army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

"It seems to have been a result of a misunderstanding," Thai army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters. "There is no point in fighting because it could escalate and damage relations... We don't want that."

The Cambodian government accused the Thai army of targeting Cambodian villagers and said the fighting erupted when Thai soldiers illegally entered Cambodia territory.

"We said to them 'don't come in the area' and they still came. We fired into the air and they began to shoot at us," said Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith.

CLASH MAY SPUR THAI NATIONALIST PROTEST

The clash comes three days after a Cambodian court handed down jail terms of six and eight years to two Thai nationalists found guilty of trespassing and spying in the border region, a verdict that has angered some in Thailand.

Shelling began at about 3 p.m. (0800 GMT) and continued into early evening. Artillery shells landed at several villages on the Thai side, setting at least four houses on fire, witnesses said.

A Thai police colonel, Chatchawan Kaewchandee, said at least one villager was killed during the shelling. "We found one body of a male villager and there might be more," he said.

The fighting could give a boost to a small but prolonged protest by Thailand's "yellow shirt" activists demanding Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva take a tougher line against Cambodia.

Chamlong Srimuang, a yellow shirt leader, said his group would step up pressure on the government, saying the fighting showed that Abhisit was weak in handling border tensions.

"We have warned about this sort of thing for a long time. We didn't call for a clash just for the government to show our military strength precisely to prevent any clash from taking place," he told reporters.

The temple, known as Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Khao Phra Viharn in Thailand, sits on land that forms a natural border and has been a source of tension for generations.

The International Court of Justice awarded it to Cambodia in 1962 but the ruling did not determine the ownership of the scrub next to the ruins, leaving considerable scope for disagreement.

The fighting coincided with meetings in Cambodia between Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and his Cambodian counterpart aimed at reducing tensions. (Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul in Phnom Penh; Writingby Jason Szep; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Under attack at Preah Vihear temple on Thai-Cambodia border

Pictures From the border Khmer/Thai










General Kon Kim is inspecting the troops after the fighting is finished

A house burns on the Thai-Cambodian border in,Thailand, Friday Feb. 4,2011. Cambodian and Thai troops battled for two hours Friday along a disputed stretchof their shared border, trading artillery fire that killed at least two people near an 11th century temple that is a U.N. World Heritage Site. (AP Photo/Dailay News) 

Villagers sit in emergency shelters in the Si Sa Ket Province,Thailand on Friday Feb. 4,2011. Cambodian and Thai troops battled for two hours Friday alonga disputed stretch of their shared border, trading artillery fire that killed at least two people near an 11th century temple that is a U.N. World Heritage Site. (AP Photo)  

A house burns on the Thai-Cambodian border in,Thailand, Friday Feb. 4,2011. Cambodian and Thai troops battled for two hours Friday along a disputed stretchof their shared border, trading artillery fire that killed at least two people near an 11th century temple that is a U.N. World Heritage Site. (AP Photo/Dailay News) 

Thai people evacuate from the Thai-Cambodian border in Si Sa ket Province ,Thailand on Friday Feb.4, 2011. Cambodian and Thai troops battled for two hoursFriday along a disputed stretch of their shared border, trading artillery fire that killed at least two people near an 11th century temple that is a U.N. World Heritage Site. (AP Photo)  

A house burns at the Thai-Cambodian border in Si Sa ket Province ,Thailand on Friday Feb.4, 2011. Cambodian and Thai troops battled for two hours Fridayalong a disputed stretch of their shared border, trading artillery fire that killed at least two people near an 11th century temple that is a U.N. World Heritage Site. (AP Photo)

កងទ័ព​កម្ពុជា​បង្ខំ​អោយ​ទា​ហ៊ាន​ថៃ​ដក​បា​ណូ​ដែល​រំលោភ​លើទឹក​ដី​ខ្មែរ នៅ​ចំណុច​សំបុក​ឃ្មុំ ប្រាសាទព្រះវិហារ​កាលពី​ថ្ងៃទី ២៦ មករា ២០១១

Cambodian soldier killed, 4 wounded in border clash: official

via CAAI

English.news.cn
2011-02-05

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- A military clash between Cambodian and Thai troops near the 11th-century disputed temple in border area left both side's soldiers killed and wounded Friday afternoon, a top government official said.

"In the clash, one Cambodian soldier was killed and four others wounded, while seven Thai soldiers were killed in the battle in Cambodian territory," the official, who asked for anonymity, told Xinhua.

The military clash began at 3 p.m. and ended at 5:45 p.m. on Friday and heavy weapons, including rockets, machine guns and mortars, and artillery, were used in the fire exchange.

The incident was the latest in a long-festering dispute over the cliff-top Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodian side.

The incident happened coincided with the visit of Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya in Cambodia for the seventh meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said on Friday evening at Phnom Penh International Airport that Cambodia would file a complaint to the U.N. Security Council over the "Thai invasion" into Cambodian territory at the Beehive area at the border nearby Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand have had border conflict due to Thai claim of the ownership of 4.6-sq-km scrub next to the temple, triggering a military build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

US urges restraint on Thai-Cambodia border

Thai soldiers set-up artillery guns on the Thai-Cambodian border


via CAAI

WASHINGTON — The United States on Friday urged Thailand and Cambodia to show "maximum restraint" after soldiers exchanged fire on the two countries' border, leaving at least two people dead.

"The United States urges both sides to exercise maximum restraint and take all necessary steps to reduce tensions and avoid further conflict," a State Department spokesperson told AFP.

"We are closely monitoring the situation," she said.

Thailand and Cambodia each accused each other of starting the skirmishes near the ancient Preah Vihear temple, which has long been a source of dispute between the Southeast Asian nations.

Cambodia said it planned to take the incident to the UN Security Council.

Border clashes kill six

 via CAAI

By The Nation
Published on February 5, 2011

PM says Thai troops reacted to Cambodian firing in worst flare-up over a decade; Phnom Penh vows to take the issue to UN Security Council today


Artillery exchanges between Thailand and Cambodia yesterday in the disputed area near the Hindu Preah Vihear Temple killed at least six soldiers and civilians on both sides as well as damaged property in one of the worst border flare-ups in a decade.

Phnom Penh plans to complain today to the United Nations over what it terms a "Thai invasion", Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday.

"We will lodge a complaint with the UN Security Council on Saturday [today]," he was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.

However, Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan played down the significance of the incident. "We are negotiating now and I am sure that everything will be fine,"


Army chief Prayut Chan-o-cha said the situation calmed down after 6pm and some Thai soldiers were slightly injured but a soldier on the ground contacted by The Nation via telephone said they were still engaged in the battle late last night. "So far we have lost two, and I was injured. We cannot go down the Phu Ma Khua hill," the injured soldier said in a short conversation before the line was cut.

After the fighting ended, Second Army Area commander Lt-General Thawatchai Samutsakhon and Si Sa Ket Governor Somsak Suwansujarit held talks with a Cambodian army commander at the Phra Viharn National Park about the clash.

Charoen Thahom, a 50-year-old resident of Si Sa Ket's Phum Srol village, was killed by an artillery shell that landed in his village while he was leading his family to seek shelter after the border skirmish broke out.

At least seven buildings, including one owned by Phum Srol School, were hit by artillery shells fired from the Cambodian side.

Three houses were set ablaze.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said last night that the Thai side fired warning shots and then responded to the Cambodian fire when the warnings were ignored. He added that the fighting now was over. However, he declined to confirm a report that Thai soldiers had been captured during the clash.

The clash occurred at a disputed border area near Phu Ma Khua hill at 3.15pm and the sound of gunfire was heard at Si Sa Ket province's Ban Phum Srol about 5 kilometres from the hill, villagers said.

"We were at a sports event when the sound of many weapons, including small arms and heavy weapons, was heard from the battlefield," a resident told The Nation via telephone.

Besides the civilian and soldiers fatality, five Thai soldiers were injured in the clash, according to Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit.

Authorities told villagers to seek shelter and later evacuated them to safe areas deeper into Thai territory. Some of them moved to a downtown area of Kantharalak district, about 30km from the Preah Vihear Temple.

Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over the border area adjacent to Preah Vihear for a long time.

Both sides boosted troop numbers in the area recently after the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) staged a protest near the Prime Minister's Office demanding the government use force to kick Cambodians out of the area.

PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang said he was not happy with the border clash, since it damaged both sides. "It happened because Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva showed weakness to Cambodia," he said.

Troops clashed in 2008 and 2009 in the same area, resulting in the deaths of more than 10 soldiers on both sides.

The clash this time was fiercer as it saw the use of artillery that hit civilians and their homes. Residents saw many shells land near their villages in tambon Sao Thong Chai.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Cambodian troops opened fire first, triggering the exchange of fire.

However, Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said Thai soldiers had crossed 500 metres into Cambodian territory and opened fire first despite efforts of Cambodian troops to avoid violence.

"Although Cambodian soldiers tried to negotiate to stop the Thai soldiers from invading Cambodia, the Thai Army kept moving deeper into Cambodian territory and opened fire without provocation by Cambodian forces. We have the right to self-defence to protect our land against Thai invasion," he said.

Cambodian media reported that least two Cambodian civilians and one soldier died after Thai shells landed on the Cambodian side.

Cambodia reportedly held four Thai soldiers at Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Pagoda, which is in the disputed border area near Preah Vihear.

The clash broke out shortly after Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya finished a Joint Commission meeting with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong in Siem Reap. They told reporters there that they were happy with the improving relations and agreed to use peaceful means to settle the boundary conflict.