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Thai, Cambodian armies clash on border; 6 killed

Thailand and Cambodia exchanged artillery and gunfire for several hours today in a flare-up of a long-running border dispute, and their militaries said six soldiers were killed.



Bangkok: Thailand and Cambodia exchanged
artillery and gunfire for several hours today in a flare-up of
a long-running border dispute, and their militaries said six
soldiers were killed.

The fighting near the ancient temples of Ta Krabey and
Ta Moan forced thousands of civilians on both sides to flee.

Cambodia says artillery fell on villages and other areas as
far as 13 miles inside its territory.

It was the first skirmish reported since four days of
fighting in February, when eight soldiers and civilians were
killed near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, about 100
miles to the east of today`s fighting.

A decades-old border dispute over ancient temples and
the land surrounding them has fueled nationalist passions in
both countries. Clashes have erupted several times since 2008,
when Preah Vihear was given UN World Heritage status.

Each side blamed the other for the resumption of
fighting.

Thai army spokeswoman Lt Col Siriya Khuangsirikul said
three Thai soldiers had been killed, and 13 wounded, one
critically.

Cambodian defence spokesman Lt Gen Chhum Socheat said
three Cambodian soldiers were killed and six wounded.

Indonesia, chair of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations, called for an immediate cease-fire and further
efforts to resolve the border dispute. Fighting stopped by
early afternoon, but no cease-fire had been reached.

Tensions between the neighbours have been exacerbated
in recent months in part by pressure from influential Thai
nationalist groups, which have protested in Bangkok urging the
government to take back land awarded to Cambodia by an
international court ruling.

The flare-up comes as the Thai military raises its
profile in domestic politics ahead of a general election
expected to be held by early July. The army had previously
effectively vetoed an agreed-on plan to station Indonesian
observers to monitor the border situation.

Cambodia in a note from Foreign Minister Hor Namhong
to the president of the UN Security Council accused Thailand
of refusing to accept the Indonesian monitors so it could
carry out "this deliberate act of aggression."

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters
his government was investigating the cause of Friday`s clash
and said despite a pause in fighting, the situation was
volatile.

"What we would like reiterate is the position of
troops of both countries are close to each other. Therefore,
any movement can lead to clashes," Abhisit said.

PTI

From Zee News

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