>Unesco mission to survey Preah Vihear

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Cambodian troops patrolling Preah Vihear temple on 17th July, 2008.

Written by Thet Sambath and Cheang Sokha
Friday, 07 November 2008
Phnom Penh Post

A UNESCO delegation is set today to begin marking out the boundary of Preah Vihear temple, which was listed as a World Heritage site in July and has since been at the centre of a border dispute between Cambodia, which owns the monument, and Thailand, where nationalists claim the 11th-century ruins were unfairly taken from the Thais.

Both sides have faced off over contested territory near the temple and elsewhere along the border, with troops opening fire on each other last month in a brief clash that left at least four soldiers dead.

Although the border has remained quiet since then, tensions remain high and Cambodian military officials said Thursday they would protect the Unesco team.

“We are ready to provide security for the delegation when they post markers at the temple,” Brigade 12 commander Srey Doek told the Post Thursday. “Security is good and well-organised.”

Meas Yoeun, deputy military commander of Preah Vihear province, said that after Unesco had demarcated the temple border, troops guarding it would be withdrawn to another site.

“We will remove [the troops], but we are waiting orders from higher levels,” he said.

He added that both Cambodian and Thai soldiers at the front line are considering declaring the demarcated area a protected zone after the departure of the Unesco team.

Yim Phim, commander of Brigade 43, said the situation was quiet at the front line ahead of Unesco’s arrival.

“We are guarding the border 24 hours a day,” he said. “It is our duty to protect our territory.”

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