Sunday, April 05, 2009

Hun Sen terms Friday border battle with Thai troops 'small clash'

By Puy Kea
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Saturday two short-lived border battles between Cambodian and Thai troops Friday near the ancient Preah Vihear Temple was not a precursor to war ''but small clash.'' The premier made the statement while meeting with Cambodian military veterans southern Kampot Province .
He added Cambodia deserved to use ''self-defense'' after Thai troops entered Cambodian territory. Hun Sen said no Cambodian combatants were killed or wounded during the border clashes. In Thailand , Thawatchai Samutsakorn, deputy commander of the Second Army of Thailand, told reporters three Thai soldiers were killed and 12 others wounded during the two gun battles Friday. Hun Sen urged neither side to escalate the confrontation and to, instead, exchange ''dried fish rather than gunfire.'' Also Saturday, Gen. Pol Saroeun, Cambodia 's military commander-in-chief, said the situation along the Cambodian-Thai border has ''returned to normal.''
In a press statement released late Friday, Cambodia said a brief skirmish between Cambodian and Thai troops occurred at 7:12 a.m. and lasted for 7 to 8 minutes, after which another larger battle began at 2 p.m. and lasted for 35 minutes. It said Thai soldiers opened fire first in both incidents, but Thailand blamed Cambodia for making the first moves. Phay Siphan, a spokesman for Cambodia 's Council of Ministers, said fighting took place at three places on the border, an area known as Eagle Field, an area 2 kilometers to its west known as Phnom Troap and in an area 2 km to the east of Eagle Field near the disputed Preah Vihear Temple . Despite the incidents, Phay Siphan said the planned meeting of the Joint Border Commission between the two countries will go ahead, and will be held in Phnom Penh next Monday and Tuesday. Also, he said Hun Sen will attend the summits of the association of Southeast Asian Nations and its dialogue partners next Friday through Sunday in Pattaya , Thailand .
KyodoApril 04, 2009

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