Friday, February 4, 2011

Cambodian, Thai troops clash near disputed temple

Thai and Cambodian soldiers have clashed near a disputed temple on the two countries' shared border, officials from both nations told AFP, amid increasing tensions between them.

"A clash is ongoing", said Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith without elaborating.

A Cambodian soldier stationed near the ancient Preah Vihear temple, which is claimed by both sides, told AFP by telephone fighting had broken out. Gunfire could be heard in the background.

Reports said artillery was being used, but it was not clear by which side, or whether both were doing so.

A Thai army official at the border also confirmed the skirmish, which follows reports of a military buildup on both sides of the border in recent days.

He said fighting broke out at 3.10pm local time (0810 GMT) at Phu Makuea, near the 11th-century temple.

"The fighting is still going on," the official said. "We don't have any details or casualties yet."

Residents in nine villages along the Thai side of the frontier have been asked to take shelter or leave the area, said a senior district official at Kantharalak in the border province of Si Sa Ket.

"I can still hear artillery shelling but don't know from which side," he said.

Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is currently in Cambodia for talks with his Cambodian counterpart.

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