Cambodian Soldiers Killed In Clash
Sky News, UK – October 16, 2008
Two soldiers have been killed and at least seven injured during a firefight between Cambodia and Thailand.
Troops using rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns clashed over a disputed border area close to the ancient Preah Vihear temple after reports that 500 Thai soldiers were preparing to attack.
Two Cambodian soldiers were killed and at least two more were wounded in the firefight, while five Thai soldiers were also injured.
Thailand has urged its citizens to leave Cambodia immediately and urgent talks are now under way after a ceasefire.
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong confirmed two troops were killed.
He added that 10 Thai soldiers had been captured and would be returned home if requested.
He said:”The Prime Minister has ordered that the 10 soldiers be treated well.
“We remain committed to solving the problems through peaceful means.”
Thai army spokesman Sansern Kaewkumnerd said: “The Thai army will defend itself but the army commander has emphasised that we will not react disproportionately, which may exacerbate the problem.
“We have reinforced our troops but from an initial assessment, the army believes the situation is now under control.”
The fighting broke out in a small patch of disputed land about 1.2 miles from the 11th-century temple ruins, a UN World Heritage site which is on Cambodian territory.
The two countries have been arguing over the land since July, and tensions soared this week after 84 Thai troops entered the disputed area.
The temple, 600 km (370 miles) east of Bangkok, was given to Cambodia in 1962 by the International Court of Justice, but the court failed to rule on which country owned the 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the ruins – leading to the current tension.
This small parcel of land became highly politicised in July when the Thai anti-government movement adopted it as a cause.
Both countries claimed the other fired first.
A Cambodian army commander said his soldiers had been ordered to stop Thai troops entering their land.
Brigadier Bun Thean said: “Our troops prevented Thai troops from entering our territory, but they started to open fire at our troops right away.”
Earlier, Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornviwat said a plan to evacuate all Thai citizens from Cambodia had been prepared, but not executed.
He said: “We have prepared an evacuation plan but we have to see how serious the situation is before the plan is executed.
“We can confirm that Thailand was not the first to fire because the prime minister has a clear position on this.”
Thai nationals were last evacuated from Cambodia in 2003 after nationalist violence erupted outside the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh over another temple dispute