>Border shootout prompts protest to Cambodia govt

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Teck Mieng (C), a Cambodian soldier injured during a clash with Thai soldiers, is seen at Phnom Trop mountain near the Thai border in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, October 4, 2008. Cambodia protested to Thailand on Saturday about a border shooting incident in which three solders were wounded and said in a letter to the Thai ambassador that such “intentional armed provocation” could lead to conflict. Two Thai soldiers and one Cambodian soldier were injured in what was the first clash in the disputed territory near the Preah Vihear temple since the two countries agreed to pull back in August after a serious confrontation. REUTERS/Stringer
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FIVE TROOPS WOUNDED IN EXCHANGE OF FIRE

THANIDA TANSUBHAPOL WASSANA NANUAM

The Foreign Ministry yesterday protested to the Cambodian government for what it sees as aggression and a violation of Thailand’s sovereignty and territorial integrity committed by Cambodian soldiers. On Friday, Thai and Cambodian soldiers in the border area of Si Sa Ket province clashed.

Two Thai and three Cambodian soldiers were wounded. (Khmerization: BBC Radio reported on the same day of the fighting that one Cambodian and four Thai soldiers were injured in the clash).

Cambodian charge d’affaires to Bangkok Ouk Sophoin was summoned last night to meet permanent secretary Virasakdi Futrakul at the ministry and was given an aide-memoire.

Speaking after the one-hour meeting, Mr Virasakdi said Thailand had protested to Cambodia after its troops opened fire on the Thai troops.

”The Thai government demands the Cambodian government ensure that a similar incident does not recur because this incident might affect attempts by both countries to seek a peaceful solution to the Thai-Cambodian border dispute,” said Mr Virasakdi.

The Thai para-military rangers from Suranaree Task Force were patrolling along the Thai-Cambodian border inside Thai territory near Phu Ma Khua last Friday.

When they arrived in an area about one kilometre to the west of Preah Vihear temple, they discovered an intrusion into Thai territory by a group of Cambodian soldiers who were digging trenches in the area around Preah Vihear temple.

Four unarmed Thai para-military rangers were told to notify the Cambodian soldiers that they had intruded into Thai territory and asked them to leave. (Khmerization: The Thai lies don’t add up. How can unarmed Thai soldiers were able to fire an M-79 rocket launcher and injure one Cambodian soldier? Did the M-79 rocket launcher fire by itself?)

But the Cambodian soldiers consulted their superiors by radio and were heard to receive instructions to fire at the Thai soldiers.

The Cambodian troops started firing their guns into the air. The Thai para-military rangers decided to leave the scene when the Cambodian soldiers opened fire at them, prompting the Thai unit stationed nearby to return fire to protect the Thai troops.

”The Thai government considers the intrusion of the Cambodian soldiers into Thailand’s territory a serious violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

”Firing on unarmed Thai para-military rangers is a brutal and aggressive act and is contrary to the spirit of friendly relations between the two countries,” said the aide-memoire. (Khmerization: If Cambodian soldiers are brutal and aggressive, why didn’t they shoot at the Thai soldiers when they invaded the Preah Vihear area, Ta Moan Thom and Ta Krabey temples recently? Why Thai soldiers were able to stay in the invaded Khmer territories up until today without a single shot being fired? This proved that Thai soldiers were the ones who crossed into Cambodia territories, asked to leave by Cambodian troops, they got angry and fired the shots first. This is logic).

Mr Virasakdi said digging trenches violated the agreement between the two armed forces made during the Special Meeting of the Thailand-Cambodia Regional Committee in Surin province on Aug 13, that both sides must refrain from digging trenches close to the Preah Vihear.

The Cambodians’ action also violated the agreement between the two foreign ministers for soldiers from the two sides to exercise restraint, he said.

”Mr Ouk Sophoin was still adamant that the incident occurred inside Cambodian territory, according to their report,” he said.

The Thai ambassador to Phnom Penh was summoned to a protest by the Cambodian government.

Former deputy army chief Vichit Yathip, who has a close relationship with Cambodian military leaders, said he had spoken to Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh about the clash.

Gen Vichit said a soldier cracked under the strain and fired shots into the air, prompting the exchange of gunfire.(Khmerization: Now the Thai general admitted that the Thai soldiers fired the first shots. But how can anyone believe that they fired into the air and not at the Cambodian soldiers? Even if they fired into the air they should know full well that both sides are nervous and the military situation there is tense and volatile. Any stupidity and a misstep from either side would cause an armed explosion. In this case, if Gen. Vichit is to be believed, the stupidity of a Thai soldier caused the fighting).

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