Update 08:06 PM
PHNOM PENH, February 4, 2011: The Thai army has invaded Cambodia again on Friday 4th February 2011 at 3 p.m (local time), and fighting ceased for now said the Cambodian government’s officials. Cambodia’s troops killed seven Thai soldiers and captured 4 other Thais on Cambodia’s land.
Cambodian armed forces have been forced to take aggressive defensive measures to repel approximately 2000 invading Thai soldiers along six locations well inside Cambodia’s territory.
The fighting erupted at least 500 meters inside sovereign of Cambodian territory at Sambok Khmum and Veal Entry and spread to another five locations.
As of 5 p.m local time fighting raged on as Thais try to hold Cambodian Territory. Fighting between invading Thai armed forces and defending Cambodian forces has raged more than two hours after the Thai army started firing heavy weaponry on Cambodian positions.
The Thai invasion came after several hours of painstaking negotiations on Thursday from 4 p.m local time onwards where Cambodian soldiers had persuaded the Thai soldiers to withdraw.
Instead of staying within Thai territory, the Thai soldiers chose to invade Cambodia again on Friday 3 p.m (local time). The Thai forces made an about turn, invaded Cambodia. Cambodia is forced to defend its territory and is using all means at its disposal to repel the Thai soldiers who at one point were more than 500 meters inside Cambodian territory, taking advantage of the buffer zone agreed upon previously before the invasion.”
The Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers (PRU) said “Thai soldiers stormed into Cambodian territory at Veal Intrei and Cambodian armed forces warned the Thais to stop and pull back.”
“However, the Thai soldiers refused to do so and opened unprovoked fire on Cambodian troops,” said the PRU.
“The Thai actions were to be carried out on the orders of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to destroy Cambodia’s Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda in order to satisfy the demands of the PAD,” said the PRU statement.
The PAD had set a deadline of 5th February for Abihist to secure the release from Cambodia the two imprisoned Thai spies, said the PRU.
“However, their ill intentions failed,” said the PRU.
An Asian diplomat said that “the Thai invasion came after the People Alliance for Democracy (PAD) pressured Abhisit-led government to do whatever necessary to free the two convicted, Thai spies currently imprisoned in Cambodia.”
The Thai invasion appears to be well planned and coordinated as the Thai Foreign Minister is currently in Cambodia to attend the Joint Border Commission (JBC) meeting in Siem Reap, said the diplomat.
“This is no accidental exchange of shots facing off each other. This is planned and premeditated to try to apply pressure on Cambodia to free the two imprisoned Thai spies,” said the diplomat.
It is believed that at least four Thai soldiers were captured deep inside Cambodian territory at Veal Intrei.
Thai soldiers rushed into the buffer zone and moved up to 500meters into Cambodian territory at Phnom Trab, Sambok Khmum, Chak Chreng, Veal Intrei, Ta Thao, Ta Sem and fired vigorously into Cambodian forces defending sovereign Cambodian territory.
The Thai army is also shelling the Cambodian village, Svay Chrum. Villagers from the Svay Chrum and the Eco-global Museum are being evacuated to a safe zone in the wake of Thai shelling. Thai shells are being fired deeper and deeper into Cambodia’s territory and are also landing in close proximity to the UNESCO heritage of Cambodia’s Preah Vihear temple, putting the centuries-old temple in imminent danger of destruction.
(Reporting by Ek Madra in Phnom Penh)
(Reporting by Ek Madra in Phnom Penh)