» 04/27/2011, 00.00
Clashes on border between Cambodia and Thailand. Bangkok calls off dialogue
This morning the two armies started to shoot in the Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples area. The dividing line between the two countries is not clearly defined, and is the subject of dispute. An unsuccessful attempt by Indonesia to mediate is called off. The conflict has caused 14 deaths and thousands displaced.
Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - This morning fighting between the Thai and Cambodian armies flared, in a conflict that since last week has caused 14 victims. The fighting with heavy artillery resumed at 5 am local time and continued for several hours n the border area near the temples of Ta Moan and Ta Krabey. A spokesman for the Thai army denounced the death of a village resident yesterday, during rocket fire.
Cambodia and Thailand are accusing each other of having started hostilities. Thailand has cancelled a series of meetings at the ministerial level to resolve the dispute. Col. Sunsern Kaewkumnerd, army spokesman, says that his country decided "last night to cancel the trip of Gen. Parwit (Minister of Defence. Ndr) to Phnom Penh." The reason: some Cambodian media claim that Thailand was ready to negotiate a cease-fire and had admitted "to being defeated and having suffered losses."
Some areas of the border between Thailand and Cambodia are not clearly defined, and are the cause of tension and sporadic clashes, often linked to moments of tension in the internal politics of both countries. Three years ago there were clashes at the border in Cambodia, while preparing for the elections. In the coming weeks, the Thai government will announce a new election.
The points of conflict are the two temples mentioned above, in the jungle, in an area claimed by both sides, and another temple, about 160 km away, Preah Vihear. Thousands of villagers have fled their homes. An attempt at mediation made by the Chairman of ASEAN, the Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, has not been successful because of Thailand’s opposition. The project involves the presence of a peacekeeping force on the Indonesian border.
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Hundreds of soldiers from the two sides continue to arrive at the contested temple, although both sides say the measures are merely defensive. Tension is high and the Thai police have stopped a group going to the temple to protest. A "cordial" telephone call between the two prime ministers.
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The two days of clashes caused deaths and injuries among soldiers and civilians. Phnom Penh denounces an "invasion" of its territory, and talks about the "explosive" situation along the boundary. Bangkok claims to have protected national sovereignty. Asean appeal: the conflict affects the economy in the area.
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Indonesia, which holds ASEAN’s rotating presidency, is deploying a team to monitor the border between the two countries. It will include civilian and military personnel, who will move along and across the border. Still, no ceasefire has been put in place as Thailand pledges not to withdraw its troops.
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Nationalists and Pad take to the streets, threatening a permanent siege. The protesters call for the withdrawal of the Memorandum of Understanding with Cambodia and the release of seven people on trial in Phnom Penh. Provocative billboards and military exercises raise tensions between the two countries.
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Talks are underway between officials from both countries to solve the crisis. Both parties seem motivated by domestic political considerations and any solution will be hard to come by.
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