Thai and Cambodian troops in new border clash

BANGKOK — Thai and Cambodian troops clashed with gunfire and artillery shells on Friday, shattering a two-month lull in long-standing tensions at their disputed border.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 22 Apr 2011, 9:40 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:54 PM

The fighting broke out near Ta Muean Tom temple on the border in Pa Nom Dong Rak district of Thailand’s Surin province. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

“Cambodian soldiers fired with assault rifles at Thailand first and now they started to shell us with artillery and we took appropriate retaliation,” Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon told AFP.

“I think Cambodia wanted to take over temples on the border,” he said.

The two countries regularly accuse each other of starting border fighting.

The Cambodian side also confirmed the latest clash.

“The clash started shortly before 6 am (2300 GMT Thursday). I am monitoring it now. It has not stopped yet,” said Cambodian defence ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat.

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

A festering dispute between the two countries over land near a different temple erupted into four days of fighting in February, leaving at least 10 people dead and prompting a UN appeal for a lasting ceasefire.

Thailand and Cambodia each accused the other of starting those clashes, which erupted around the 900-year-old Hindu temple of Preah Vihear.

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 the temple belonged to Cambodia, but both countries claim ownership of a 4.6 square kilometre (1.8 square mile) surrounding area.

Observers say the temple dispute has been used as a rallying point to stir nationalist sentiment in Thailand and Cambodia.

The two countries agreed in late February to allow Indonesian observers in the area near Preah Vihear, but the Thai military has since said they are not welcome.

Thailand recently admitted using controversial Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions during the February fighting but insisted it did not classify them as cluster munitions.

The arms are defined as cluster munitions by the global campaign group Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), which condemned Thailand’s use of the weapons.

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