AFP: “Fighting erupts along Thai-Cambodia border: officials”
Fighting erupted on the Thai-Cambodia border, military officials from both sides said on Wednesday, as a row over a disputed patch of land near the ancient Preah Vihear temple boiled over.
Brigadier Bun Thean said the two sides had exchanged gunfire, after reports that 500 Thai soldiers were massing on their side of the border.
“Cambodian and Thai troops are opening fire at each other now,” he told AFP from the scene, accusing Thailand of firing the first shot.
“Thai troops entered our territory … It is heavy gunfire.”
A senior Thai military official who did not wish to be named confirmed that fighting had broken out near the border, but insisted that it was isolated.
“It’s small-scale fighting and the Thai authorities are trying to contain the incident,” he told AFP in Bangkok.
CNN.com: “Fighting erupts on Thai-Cambodia border”
Thai and Cambodian soldiers clashed Wednesday in a disputed border region where the two countries lay claim to an ancient temple, the Thai military told CNN.
Thai soldiers set-up artillery guns on the Thai-Cambodian border on October 15.
No casualties were reported in the fighting near the Preah Vihear temple, the military said.
Thai military officials are now trying to arrange emergency talks with their Cambodian counterparts, the military said.
Both countries posted troops in the area after the United Nations in July approved Cambodia’s application to have the 11th-century temple listed as a World Heritage Site.
The Nation: “Sound of gunshots heard along Thai-Cambodia border”
Sound of several gunshots were heard near the disputed area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on the ThaiCambodia border in Si Sa Ket province at about 2.45pm.
The area is in the heart of border tension between Thailand and Cambodia which was flared up after Cambodia’s premier Hun Sen threatened to open war if Thai troops were not withdrawn from the area.
It is still unclear who fired first shot but Thai officials said that the shots were fired from the Khmer side.
Both Thai and Cambodian troops were deployed along the border in Si Sa Ket following Hun Sen’s threats. The Thai army vowed to retaliate if attacked.
Meanwhile Army Commander in Chief Gen Anupong Paochinda has instructed Thai troops along the border with Cambodia to be on high alert and to retaliate if attacked.
Second Army Region Commander Lt Gen Wibunsak Neeparn said Anupong telephoned to him and ordered Thai troops along the border to be ready if attacked.
Here’s more info on the disputed temple:
— Reuters: “FACTBOX: Preah Vihear, a source of Thai-Cambodian tension”
— CSM: “Why Thai-Cambodian temple dispute lingers”
— Update (via A): for some good analysis of the situation, look no further than this Reuters story: “Thailand and Cambodia face off again — for what?” It includes answers to questions like:
1) If war broke out, would Thailand easily defeat Cambodia?
2) Apart from national pride, is there any reason to go to war over this scrubland?
3) Are domestic politics to blame for the rise in tension?
4) Are border disputes common in this bit of Southeast Asia?
5) Surely the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) will step in and solve the problem?