Home > Local News > Thai, Cambodian border quiet after deadly clashes

Thai, Cambodian border quiet after deadly clashes

PREAH VIHEAR (updated on:
2011-02-08 20:17:20 PST
):

Thai, Cambodian border quiet after deadly clashes
Cambodian and Thai troops held their fire along the tense border
Tuesday as the total death toll after four days of clashes near a
disputed temple climbed to eight.

No
new fighting has broken out since brief skirmishes early on Monday, but
a Cambodian military commander stationed near the temple said the
situation remained “tense”.

“We are still on alert,” said the commander, who did not wish to be named.

The latest fatality was a Thai soldier who died on Tuesday from injuries suffered during artillery shelling over the weekend.

The
clashes, which first erupted on Friday, have now left five Cambodians
and three Thais dead, including at least one civilian on each side.

Cambodia on Tuesday handed over to the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh a Thai soldier captured in fighting on February 5.

Thousands of families on both sides of the frontier have been displaced by the recent violence.

Many
have been forced to seek shelter in camps, schools and pagodas in
villages away from the border as they wait for hostilities to end.

Phnom
Penh says that Thai artillery fire has also damaged the 11th-century
Preah Vihear temple, which is at the centre of the standoff.

Ties between the neighbours have been strained since Preah Vihear was granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008.

The
World Court ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear itself belonged to Cambodia
but both countries claim ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometre
(1.8-square-mile) surrounding area.

An AFP photographer on the
scene said the temple grounds were littered with shrapnel and some
temple walls appeared scarred by bullet marks.

He also described
seeing what looked like blood stains on one of the stone pathways
inside the temple complex, and blackened trees dotting the surrounding
landscape.

Both Thailand and Cambodia have written to the UN
Security Council twice about the border unrest, with Bangkok accusing
Phnom Penh of seeking the “internationalisation” of the conflict.

Cambodian
Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned that regional stability was at risk
from what he described as “Thailand’s aggression”.

Maria Luiza
Ribeiro Viotti, the Brazilian ambassador who is the current president
of the UN Security Council, said its members would be willing to meet
to discuss the dispute.

The United States again called on both
sides “to exercise maximum restraint”, in comments echoed by the
European Union, Malaysia and Vietnam.

US State Department
spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters that Washington was “undecided”
on whether the UN should be involved after Cambodia called for urgent
action by the Security Council.

Hun Sen has asked for UN troops to be sent to the area to create a “buffer zone”.

He also said he would welcome intervention by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Marty
Natalegawa, foreign minister of Indonesia — the current ASEAN chair —
has held talks with his counterparts in Phnom Penh and Bangkok to
discuss the border dispute even though Thailand has dismissed
intervention by the regional bloc as “unnecessary”.

Natalegawa
told reporters in the Thai capital he was hopeful the current halt in
fighting would hold with the two sides seemingly “committed to ensure
that the situation stabilises.”

Both countries have accused each other of starting the fighting and using heavy weapons.

It
is unclear exactly what triggered the latest bout of violence, but
diplomatic frictions have grown since late December when seven Thais,
including one lawmaker, were arrested by Cambodia near the border for
illegal entry.

Source: AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2011
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Categories: Local News
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