>Regional army chief: No troop withdrawals from disputed areas

>cartoon by: http://sacrava.blogspot.com

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Oct 15 (TNA) – Second Region Army Commander Lt-Gen. Viboonsak Neepal on Tuesday reaffirmed that the Thai military will not withdraw its troops from overlapping areas claimed by Thailand and Cambodia, saying that the armed forces are ready to maintain the country’s sovereignty.

Speaking after meeting with local military unit commanders to assess the situation along the Thai-Cambodian border, he said that Thailand will not pull out its troops from the disputed areas, because the claims by both countries were made based on separate maps.

Gen. Viboonsak conceded that some Thai troops, including border patrols and surveillance troops had withdrawn from some posts, but only 30 personnel were affected, not 80 to 1-100 as claimed by Cambodia.

He said Thai troops must sometimes enter the overlapping areas to help evacuate soldiers injured by landmines.

Gen. Viboonsak said he was confident that the armed forces will protect Thailand’s national sovereignty. The public must not be worried about it.

Should there be a clash between soldiers, he said, the military is ready to evacuate people from the overlapping areas.

The general said he had already informed provincial governors on the Thai-Khmer frontier of the incident.

He warned people to avoid entering the disputed areas or traveling to Cambodia for the time being as since the situation remains worrying.

A brief skirmish broke out on the border earlier in the month, with one Cambodian and two Thai soldiers wounded. Both sides claimed the other fired first and blamed the other for being on the wrong side of the border.

Three days later, two Thai soldiers lost legs when they stepped on land mines in the area.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen met with Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat on Monday, but the meeting appeared to end without resolution. Afterward Mr. Hun Sen said that if Thai troops do not stop trespassing, “armed clashes will break out.” (TNA)
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