03/25/2009, 00.00
CAMBODIA – THAILAND

Preah Vihear temple raises Thai-Cambodian tensions

After last October’s clashes, which left four soldiers dead, the movement of 100 Thai troops into the disputed area causes alarm. Both governments try to downplay the incident.
Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Tensions between Cambodia and Thailand flared up suddenly today when Thai troops crossed into a disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple claimed by both countries. Last October, clashes left four soldiers dead.

Thai soldiers entered the area where they were faced by Cambodian troops, but both sides quickly issued statements in order to avoid clashes.

"We are trying to push the Thais back to their border through negotiation. We do not want violence again,” Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said.

“Both sides move their troops from time to time. We inform our Cambodian friends of our movements and vice versa,” Major General Kanok NetraKaveysana said.

An old Hindu temple, Preah Vihear was built in the 12th century.

Sitting on an escarpment the temple became an issue when in July of last year UNESCO decided to list it as a World Heritage Site. The International Court of Justice had already awarded it to Cambodia in 1962.

The original ruling did not however determine the ownership of a 4.6 sq km area of scrub next to the ruins.

In the wake of last October’s clashes Thailand and Cambodia agreed to demarcate the border once for all.

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