Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tensions resurface at Preah Vihear

Bangkok Post

Thai and Cambodian troops faced off in Phu Makhua in the disputed 4.6 square kilometer area around Preah Vihear temple on Monday, sparking fears of renewed border clashes as neither side would retreat, reports said.
About 20 Thai troops were patrolling the Phu Makhua mountain on the border when they ran into a group of Cambodian soldiers who were reconnoitring the area late in the afternoon.
Both sides claimed territorial rights to the area and despite negotiations, refused to retreat, a military source familiar with Phu Makhua said.  
``The two units held their positions about 10 metres apart after talks failed to resolve the impasse,'' the source said.
``Both sides have reinforced their positions with back-up troops.''
The source said Col Thanasak Mitopanon, commander of the 26 Ranger Regiment, had ordered the immediate closure of Pha Mor I Dang cliff, the disputed border area next to Preah Vihear temple in Si Sa Ket province, in case clashes break out and tourists are caught in the middle. 
But Col Thanasak denied the move had anything to do with the confrontation. He claimed the regiment was on manoeuvres and closing the area was necessary as tourists had not been warned about the exercise.  
The source was adamant the area was closed off because of the tense situation at Phu Makhua. He said Army Region 2 commander Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakorn had blamed Col Thanasak for closing the area and causing panic among the public.

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