>Cambodia-Thai skirmish over, officials say

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A Cambodian commander talks on a two-way radio after fighting broke out with Thai soldiers near Preah Vihear temple. Thailand and Cambodia exchanged fire on the border on Wednesday in a clash over disputed land which left two soldiers dead and several wounded, officials said.

(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Thailand’s army spokesman said the Cambodians started the battle. (AFP)

Cambodian and Thai officials have both said a skirmish on the two countries’ shared border has ceased, and Thailand’s Prime Minister insists his troops did not start the exchange.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said fighting in disputed patches of land near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on the Thai-Cambodian border was “small scale”, and said they had now subsided.

“We are not the ones who ignited the violence,” Somchai told reporters.

“The situation has returned to normal now and this evening the foreign ministry will hand over an aide memoir to a Cambodian diplomat,” he said.

“It is not serious and I am convinced there will be resolution,” he added.

The Cambodian army says the fighting ceased at around 4:45pm (8:40pm AEDT).

“The gunfire was suspended five minutes ago,” Hom Sam Ol said, adding that it stopped at a Thai commander’s request.

Thai army spokesman Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd said the Cambodians started the battle.

“The fighting began at 2:30pm and lasted for 40 minutes. It was triggered by a Thai patrol unit’s encounter with their Cambodian counterpart… the Cambodian side ignited fighting with rifles,” Col Sunsern said.

He also says he believed ongoing talks between the two sides would prevent the situation from escalating.

Thailand’s army spokesman has said one Cambodian soldier was killed and four Thai troops were injured in Wednesday’s clashes, which came after a days of tension between the neighbours.

Cambodian army officials have insisted that Thai troops fired first after they strayed into Cambodian territory.

Tensions between the neighbours flared this week after failed talks on Monday aimed at cooling a months-long stand off over land near Preah Vihear.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen then issued an ultimatum to the Thai side to leave or risk conflict after he accused more than 80 Thai soldiers of entering one of a handful of disputed areas.

There are only a few hundred troops in the disputed zone but thousands of soldiers from both countries have been deployed in the region.

Very few people live in the area, after local villagers were forced out in the last flare-up in July.

ABC/AFP

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