Friday, April 03, 2009

Bilateral Relations: Thai and Cambodian soldiers exchange rifle and rocket fire

Thai and Cambodian soldiers exchanged rifle and rocket fire on their disputed border near an ancient Hindu temple on Friday, but there were no reports of casualties, officials from both countries said, cited by Reuters.

"The armed clash began when Thai soldiers entered Cambodian territory. We fired rockets at the Thai soldiers," Cambodia's government spokesman Phay Siphan told Reuters.

In Bangkok, Thai Major General Kanok NetraKaveysana confirmed there had been a brief firefight early in the morning, but he had no reports of wounded or dead.

"It was a misunderstanding and it has been resolved," he said, without explaining further.

The fighting erupted a day after a Thai soldier was badly wounded when he stepped on a land mine near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, where both sides have stationed troops since armed clashes in the area last year.Tensions rose last month when 100 Thai troops crossed into a disputed area near the temple and were stopped by Cambodian soldiers, but no fighting occurred.

The border had been quiet for months while the Southeast Asian neighbors sought to jointly demarcate the jungle-clad area where one Thai and three Cambodian soldiers died in last year's exchange of rifle and rocket fire.Preah Vihear, or Khao Phra Viharn as it is known in Thailand, sits on an escarpment that forms the natural border between the two countries 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 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the ruins, leaving considerable scope for disagreement.

Source: FOCUS Information Agency
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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