Posts filed under ‘Politics’

Thai, Cambodian troops exchange gunfire at border area

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) — Gunfire exchange has gradually become sporadic, since a fighting broke out between Thai and Cambodian troops at around 2:25 p.m. local time (0725 GMT) Wednesday near the Phnom Trop in the Veal Intry area, about 2,000 meters west of the ancient Preah Vihear Temple, a Cambodian official at the scene told Xinhua.

“The firepower is not as strong as one hour ago,” he said on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, Hang Soth, secretary general of the Cambodian National Authority of the Preah Vihear Temple, told Xinhua that casualty is not known yet.

In addition, Bun Leng, village chief living near the temple, told Xinhua that Cambodian soldiers are evacuating the civilians near the war zone.

The gunfire exchange has turned the months-long military face off over territorial dispute there into direct armed confrontation.

Earlier Wednesday, Cambodia said that some 500 Thai troops had arrived at a patch of land near the Preah Vihear Temple.

 
Editor: Du Guodong

October 15, 2008 at 9:51 am Leave a comment

Cambodian, Thai soldiers clash at disputed border

DPA

Bangkok – Cambodian soldiers fired on Thai soldiers, wounding two, Wednesday afternoon along the disputed border, according to Thai TV reports from the area. The Cambodian side opened fire at 2:25 pm and allegedly injured two Thai soldiers, according to the reports, which have not been confirmed by the Thai Foreign Ministry or the army.  

The incident reportedly occurred 3 kilometres away from Phreah Vihear, an 11th century Hindu temple that has been the cause of many border disputes between the two neighbouring countries for almost five decades. 

A similar clash occurred at the same site on October 3 that left two Thai soldiers and one Cambodian wounded. Thailand issued an official protest to the Cambodian government over the alleged border incursion. 

Thai residents along the border have been told to evacuate in case of an escalation in the fighting, according to local media reports. 

Thailand and Cambodia nearly came to blows over the Preah Vihear temple in July, shortly after UNESCO named the ancient Hindu temple a World Heritage Site despite Thai objections. 

The temple, the object of disputed claims between Thailand and Cambodia since the 1950s, was granted to Cambodia by a ruling of the International Court of Justice in 1962. 

But land adjacent to the temple compound, including its main entrance on the Thai side, has been claimed by both countries. 

Both sides beefed up their troops in the area, situated about 400 kilometres north-east of Bangkok, after some ultra-nationalist Thais crossed into the disputed zone in a protest against the UNESCO ruling. 

The border conflict was calmed in August when both sides agreed to settle the matter through bilateral talks held by a joint border committee. 

The talks have been hampered by repeated claims of incursions into Cambodian territory and by Thailand’s chaotic domestic political situation.

October 15, 2008 at 9:23 am Leave a comment

Fighting breaks out at Thai-Cambodia border

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A gunfight broke out between Thai and Cambodian troops at a disputed border zone Wednesday, escalating a conflict that officials from both sides fear could result in a war between the neighbors.

It was not immediately clear how many troops were engaged in the gunbattle and if there were any fatalities.

“Fighting is going on,” said Maj. Prum Saroeun, a Cambodian police official. “Soldiers in the field say that Thai troops fired first and our troops fired back.”

Thailand’s army spokesman Sansern Kaewkumnerd said Cambodian troops fired the first shot.

The clash came a day after Cambodia’s prime minister issued an ultimatum to Thailand to pull back its soldiers from disputed territory near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

Thailand’s Foreign Ministry said it had prepared aircraft in case an order comes down to evacuate its citizens from Cambodia. There are an estimated 1,000 Thais in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, and 500 in the city of Siem Reap.

Earlier Wednesday, Thailand put jet fighters on alert at air force bases nationwide and C-130 transport planes on standby at a base in the capital, Bangkok, to evacuate Thais living in the border area “if the tension escalates to a military confrontation,” Thai air force official Group Capt. Montol Satchukorn said.

Cambodia’s deputy defense minister, Gen. Neang Phat declined to say how many Cambodian troops had been deployed in the area.

The conflict is the latest flare-up in a decades-long dispute over a contested stretch of jungle near the Preah Vihear temple. The World Court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but sovereignty over some surrounding land has never been clearly resolved.

Tensions flared July 15 after UNESCO, the U.N. agency, approved Cambodia’s bid to have the Preah Vihear temple named a World Heritage Site, leading some in Thailand to fear that its claims over the nearby land would be undermined.

Cambodia deployed about 800 troops to the border after the UNESCO decision, and Thailand sent some 400 soldiers. Both sides pulled back most of their troops in late August, but passions flared again recently.

A brief gunfight broke out between the sides earlier this month, with one Cambodian and two Thai soldiers wounded. Both sides claimed the other fired first and blamed each other for being on the wrong side of the border. Three days later, two Thai soldiers lost legs when they stepped on land mines in the area.

Associated Press Writers Jocelyn Gecker and Ambika Ahuja in Bangkok, Thailand contributed to this report.

October 15, 2008 at 9:15 am 3 comments

Thai and Cambodia forces exchange border fire

Wed 15 Oct 2008, 7:01 GMT

PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia (Reuters) – Fighting broke out along a disputed stretch of the Thai-Cambodian border on Wednesday, a Reuters photographer at the scene said, saying he had to take cover amid rocket and small-arms fire.

Thai and Cambodian forces exchanged fire for about 10 minutes, the journalist said.

“I heard gunfire all over the place in this area,” Reuters photographer Chor Sokunthea said by telephone. “One rocket flew from Thailand over my head and landed. Now you can hear the fighting. They’ve opened fire.”

“I have to find a safe place to hide,” he said.

Thailand sent more soldiers on Tuesday to the disputed stretch of the Cambodian border near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple that both sides claim, a Thai general said, hours after a Cambodian general said Thai troops had pulled back.

On Monday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to turn the area into a “death zone” unless the Thais retreated by midday Tuesday.

The Thai military said it was ready for war and the Foreign Ministry told Thais to “think twice” before visiting Cambodia, only fives years after a nationalist mob torched the embassy in Phnom Penh in an argument about another ancient Hindu temple.

Tensions have been high since July, when 2,000 soldiers faced off only yards apart in trenches dug into a hillside that until 10 years ago was under the control of remnants of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot’s guerrilla army.

At the heart of the dispute is 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub near the temple, which the International Court of Justice awarded to Cambodia in 1962, a ruling that has rankled in Thailand ever since.

The dispute flared in July after protesters trying to overthrow the Thai government attacked Bangkok’s backing of Phnom Penh’s bid to list the Hindu ruins as a World Heritage site.

October 15, 2008 at 8:25 am Leave a comment

Thai, Cambodian troops exchange gunfire on border: Cambodia

PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia (AFP) — Thai and Cambodian troops exchanged gunfire Wednesday along their border, a Cambodia army commander said, as a row over a disputed patch of land appeared to be escalating.

“Cambodian and Thai troops are opening fire at each other now,” Brigadier General Bun Thean told AFP.

Thailand is gathering troops close to a contested patch of land on the border with Cambodia near to a disputed temple, a Cambodian military commander at the scene said Wednesday.

Bun Thean told AFP by telephone that about 500 troops were massing on the Thai side of the frontier near a small patch of disputed land about two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the 11th century Preah Vihear temple ruins.

“They are coming near now. They are just about 50 to 60 meters (165 to 195 feet) away from the area,” Bun Thean said.

No Thai officials were available to confirm any fresh deployment of troops, but Thailand’s Channel Seven — a military-run television station — also reported Wednesday that both sides had reinforced soldiers in the area.

Tensions between the neighbours flared again this week after failed talks on Monday aimed at cooling a months-long stand off over land near Preah Vihear, a United Nations cultural heritage site which is in Cambodian territory.

On Tuesday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen issued an ultimatum to the Thai side after he accused 84 Thai soldiers of entering one of a handful of disputed areas — leave before midday or risk conflict.

Cambodian officials insisted that the troops did leave before the deadline, but Thailand’s foreign minister said they were standing their ground.

Witnesses along the border said the situation was a little calmer on Wednesday, despite the increase in troops.

“The situation is calmer. Nothing has changed yet,” Cambodian Brigadier General Yim Pim told AFP.

The spat between the neighbours first flared in July after Preah Vihear was awarded World Heritage status by the UN cultural body UNESCO, angering some Thai nationalists who still claim ownership of the site.

The situation quickly escalated into a military confrontation, with up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops facing off for six weeks, although both sides in August agreed to reduce troop numbers in the disputed area.

October 15, 2008 at 8:22 am Leave a comment

Video: Hun Sen’s ultimatum – 14.10.2008

October 15, 2008 at 7:09 am Leave a comment

War rhetoric heats up in Thailand-Cambodia spat

The Associated Press

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Thailand put jet fighters on standby and Cambodia said its troops were on alert Wednesday as war rhetoric heated up between the neighbors in a tense border dispute.

Both sides said they had sent additional troops to the border and were ready to respond militarily if attacked, a day after Cambodia issued an ultimatum to Thailand to pull back its soldiers from disputed territory near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

“Our forces are on alert and ready to support the army’s possible operations on the border,” said Thai air force official Group Capt. Montol Satchukorn. “These are just precautionary measures. It’s not that we are going to war.”

The precautions included putting jet fighters on alert at air force bases nationwide and C-130 transport planes on standby at a base in the capital, Bangkok, to evacuate Thais living in the border area “if the tension escalates to a military confrontation,” Montol told The Associated Press in Bangkok, Thailand.

Cambodia’s deputy defense minister, Gen. Neang Phat, said, “We remain on alert and have readied our forces adequately to protect our territory.” He declined to say how many Cambodian troops had been deployed in the area.

The conflict is the latest flare-up in a decades-long dispute over a contested stretch of jungle near the Preah Vihear temple. The World Court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but sovereignty over some surrounding land has never been clearly resolved.

Tensions flared July 15 after UNESCO, the U.N. agency, approved Cambodia’s bid to have the Preah Vihear temple named a World Heritage Site, leading some in Thailand to fear that its claims over the nearby land would be undermined.

Cambodia deployed about 800 troops to the border after the UNESCO decision, and Thailand sent some 400 soldiers. Both sides pulled back most of their troops in late August, but passions flared again recently.

A brief gunfight broke out between the sides earlier this month, with one Cambodian and two Thai soldiers wounded. Both sides claimed the other fired first and blamed each other for being on the wrong side of the border. Three days later, two Thai soldiers lost legs when they stepped on land mines in the area.

As of late Tuesday, the opposing troops were only about 100 yards (meters) apart, said Gen. Viboonsak Neepan, the Thai Army commander for the region.

“We have sent more troops to be stationed near the area but only enough to resist (an attack). We will not attack first,” Viboonsak said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen sparked concerns Tuesday that an armed conflict was imminent, accusing Thai troops of having advanced into Cambodia’s territory and declaring it a “life-and-death battle zone.”

“They must withdraw,” Hun Sen said in the capital, Phnom Penh. “I have set the timeline for them to withdraw by 12 o’clock.”

There was no fighting despite the heated rhetoric, although the two countries disagreed on who backed down.

Cambodian army commander Brig. Gen. Yim Pim later said all Thai troops had retreated about 90 minutes ahead of the deadline and were back inside their camp about half a mile (0.80 kilometers) from the contested territory.

However, Thai army spokesman Sansern Kaewkumnerd denied that any troops had been pulled back and the Foreign Ministry issued a toughly worded statement that said, “If Cambodia resorts to the use of force, Thailand will have no choice but to exercise its right to self-defense.”

Thailand’s prime minister and military officials said their country’s troops had been on their own territory all along.

“If there is a problem, we will use peaceful means with an emphasis on negotiations,” said Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat. “We will not be an invader.” Somchai is also under intense political pressure at home from anti-government protesters seeking his resignation.

___

Associated Press Writer Jocelyn Gecker in Bangkok, Thailand contributed to this report.

October 15, 2008 at 6:19 am Leave a comment

Older Posts Newer Posts


October 2014
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Current visitors

counter

Blog Stats

  • 85,614 hits

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.