Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thailand, Cambodia searching for ways to resolve conflict

The Thai defense minister has ordered provincial army commanders to renew talks with their Cambodian counterparts in efforts to end four days of cross border fighting near an ancient 11th century Hindu temple.

Sporadic firing was reported late Monday near the disputed area surrounding the 900-year-old Hindu Preah Vihear temple between Thailand and Cambodia. Both countries have long disputed ownership of the temple, which is also a UNESCO world heritage site. In 1962 the International Court of Justice ruled that Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia. But surrounding areas remain in dispute.

The fighting began Friday and continued around the area. The shelling has left at least five people dead and more than a score of soldiers wounded. Thousands of residents on both sides of the border have been forced to flee their homes.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen Monday said he wanted United Nations peacekeepers sent to the region, according to Hang Chayya, a director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy in Phnom Penh. Hang Chayya said, the Cambodian "Hun Sen government did write to the UN, asking for some intervention or assistance in stopping this."

Who started it?

A Cambodian commander was reported in news media in Phnom Penh saying there had been heavy artillery and rocket fire close to the temple. He said several Thai rocket shells had hit targets deep in Cambodian territory.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, in a separate letter to the UN Security Council, rejected allegations by Cambodia that Thailand initiated the attacks, protesting "in the strongest terms" against what the prime minister called a violation of Thailand’s sovereignty and attacks on Thai civilians.

To read more: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6430440,00.html

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