Monday, February 7, 2011

Cambodia Asks U.N. to Act Amid Clashes With Thailand

Deepening a bitter border dispute, fighting erupted for a fourth day on Monday between Thai and Cambodian forces near a disputed 11th-century Hindu temple, and a Thailand military spokesman said the time for negotiations had passed.

The renewed fighting came a day after Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia asked the United Nations Security Council to convene an urgent meeting to stop what he called Thai aggression around the temple, which the Cambodians said had been damaged by cross-border shelling. Witnesses reported shelling near the temple on Monday.

The Thai military spokesman, Col. Sansern Keowkamnderd, said that there would be “no more talks” and that Thai troops would engage in “tit-for-tat” fighting with Cambodian troops, according to the Web site of The Nation newspaper in Bangkok.

The temple is claimed by both nations and has been the focus of tension and periodic military clashes since 2008.

Each side accused the other of starting the latest fighting, which has left at least two people dead and an unspecified number wounded. No deaths were immediately reported on Monday.

“Cambodians always open fire first,” Colonel Sansern said. “We will cease fire when the Cambodians stop firing at us.”

It was not clear how seriously the temple, Preah Vihear, had been damaged. A Unesco World Heritage site, the temple was slightly damaged by shelling in the last serious clash a year ago.

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