News / Asia

    Thai, Cambodian Soldiers Clash in Fresh Border Skirmish

    A Cambodian military policeman stands watch during the ground breaking ceremony of a Chinese funded road at Koun Damrey village, Banteay Meanchey province, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Cambodia's border with Thailand, February 15, 2011
    A Cambodian military policeman stands watch during the ground breaking ceremony of a Chinese funded road at Koun Damrey village, Banteay Meanchey province, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Cambodia's border with Thailand, February 15, 2011

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    Daniel Schearf

    Thai and Cambodian authorities say fresh fighting broke out between their soldiers, with each side once again blaming the other. The new skirmish came shortly after the United Nations Security Council urged the two countries to impose a ceasefire around the disputed border, which saw heavy fighting earlier this month.



    The Thai military on Tuesday said Cambodian soldiers in the early morning attacked a border post, injuring five soldiers - one of them seriously.

    Thai military spokesman Colonel Werachon Sukondhapatipak said at least one grenade was thrown at the post and Thai soldiers fired back with rifles. He said they were expecting attacks after the United Nations Security Council declined Cambodia's request to send peacekeeping troops to the area.

    "We believe that the leadership of the Cambodia were not happy with that result and they will try to do anything that [is] provocative in order to have the Thai soldier retaliate," said Werachon.

    However, Phay Siphan, a spokesman for Cambodia’s Council of Ministers, denies his country’s troops fired first. He said Thai soldiers attacked first.

    "Last night from 10:30, I mean in the evening, to 5:20 in the morning, 11 grenades have been thrown by Thai (soldiers)," said Phay.

    Phay said no Cambodian soldiers were injured and they did not retaliate.

    Fighting broke out two weeks ago in a disputed border area near a 900-year-old Khmer Hindu temple called Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Phra Viharn in Thailand.

    Thai and Cambodian militaries exchanged heavy artillery and machine gun fire, killing several people and sending thousands fleeing the border.

    Both sides blame the other for starting the fighting. Cambodia wants international help to prevent further fighting, while Thailand says the issue should be resolved bilaterally.

    On Monday, the foreign ministers of the two countries met with the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council urged them to implement a permanent ceasefire and to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to end the dispute.

    ASEAN foreign ministers are to discuss the issue next week in Jakarta.

    Tensions first erupted in 2008 when the temple, which is in Cambodia - but with its main entrance in Thailand - was listed as a U.N. World Heritage site.

    Thai nationalists objected, some of them claiming the temple is in Thailand, and both sides began building up military forces in the area, leading to occasional skirmishes.

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