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Thailand protests against Cambodian intrusion

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October 5, 2008

Thailand-Cambodia Border Dispute:
Thailand protests against Cambodian intrusion

Thai Foreign Ministry lodged a letter to Cambodian embassy Saturday afternoon to protest against what Thai authorities alleged Cambodian soldiers' intrusion into Thai territory and acts to open fire at Thai para-military rangers, which led to two injuries on Friday.

Thai Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Virasakdi Futrakul on Saturday invited Cambodia's charge d'affairs in Bangkok to lodge a protest letter.

The response came after Cambodia's similar act of lodging a protest letter to the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh earlier Saturday to blame Thai side for the Friday's border clash.

According to the Aide-Memoire issued Saturday by the Thai Foreign Ministry, the Thai side recorded Friday's clash, citing a report by the Second Army Region of the Royal Thai Army, that the Thai para-military rangers from Suranaree Task Force was patrolling along the border about one kilometer to the west of Phra Viharn (Preah Vihear) Temple at around 3:45 p.m. 0845 GMT within Thai soil when they discovered the intrusion of a group of Cambodian soldiers into Thai territory.

Four unarmed Thai rangers asked the Cambodian soldiers to leave, but the latter received instruction from superiors and started firing guns, first into the air then at the Thai rangers, causing the Thai side to return fire.

Two unarmed Thai rangers were found injured after the exchange of gunfire, according to the account.

The letter went on to say "the above-mentioned intrusion of the Cambodian soldiers into Thailand's territory is a serious violation of Thailand's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Furthermore, the shooting by the Cambodian troops against the unarmed Thai para-military rangers is regarded as a brutal and aggressive act and is contrary to the spirit of friendly relations between Cambodia and Thailand.

It also constituted a grave violation of the agreement between the two Armed Forces made during the Special Meeting of the Thailand-Cambodia Regional Committee Meeting in Surin Province on 13 August 20-8 that both sides must refrain from digging trenches in the area around Khao Phra Viharn (Preah Vihear Mountain)."

The Thai government thus "strongly protests against the said act of aggression and the violation of Thailand's sovereignty and territorial integrity committed by the Cambodian soldiers," and demanded the Cambodian government to ensure that similar incident does not recur in the future.

Both sides have claimed their soldiers had acted in self-defense and accused the other side of intruding into their territory.

Cambodian media reported that the Cambodian government was accusing Thai soldiers of being the first to open fire and went onto warn that "armed provocation by Thai soldiers could lead to very grave consequences, including full scale armed hostility".

Thai Prime Minister and Defence Minister Somchai Wongsawat will visit Cambodia on October 13 to negotiate over the border dispute, Gen Wichit Yathip, an aide of Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, said Saturday.

Thailand and Cambodia have been engaged in diplomatic quarrels and military stand-off tensions along the disputed border around Preah Vihear and at least two other ancient temples after Cambodia applied to Unesco successfully to list the temple as World Heritage site in July, which resurrected sentiment among Thais who have been reluctant to accept the 1962 International Court of Justice verdict to award the ownership of the 11th-century temple to Cambodia.

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