04/03/2009, 00.00
CAMBODIA-THAILAND
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Clashes between Thai and Cambodian soldiers at the temple of Preah Vihear

Both sides accuse each other of opening fire. An emergency meeting is called for midday to avoid a deterioration in the situation and a return to conflict.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Fresh gun fighting has broken out between Thai and Cambodian forces stationed near the contested Buddhist temple of  Preah Vihear. Both armies are accusing each other of opening fire in the latest in a series of clashes which, however has caused no injuries.  

 

General Srey Doek, Cambodia's commander at the temple, said a Thai patrol crossed into Cambodian territory and opened fire on his men; “The Thais fired rockets and rifles at us, and we responded in the same way”. Royal Thai Army chief Anupong Paochinda, accused the other side of shooting first, before seeking to minimalise the situation  “This was just a misunderstanding”. A meeting has been called for midday in an attempt to avoid a return to open conflict.

The dispute over territory surrounding the ancient temple has been ongoing for years.  Cambodia and Thailand both claim sovereignty despite an International Court ruling in 1962 that it belonged to Phnom Penh. Bangkok affirms that the temple is part of its cultural tradition and the dispute surrounding it has become a political question with op position parties accusing the government of having “sold off” a piece of National history.  October last it seemed the neighbouring nations had reached a deal on demarcation of the boundary limits.

 

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