PM’s instruction for Cambodian soldiers to ‘use bullets’ against Thai soldiers and civilians was intended to frighten ‘extremists’, foreign affairs official says.
we have stored enough ammunition to shoot them, and we will follow... orders.
PRIME Minister Hun Sen’s order for Cambodian soldiers to “use bullets” against Thai soldiers and civilians who venture into disputed border territory was intended as a warning to “Thai extremists”, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.
“The Thai extremists must know the consequences that will happen if they insist on entering Cambodia illegally with the intention of occupying any piece of land in Cambodia,” Koy Kuong said when asked about the premier’s comments, made Monday during a speech at the new Ministry of Tourism.
Koy Kuong added, though, that the government was still hoping for a peaceful resolution to the border dispute.
“Right now, we still hold the position on solving the problem with Thailand peacefully, bilaterally and amicably,” he said.
When asked whether he believed Hun Sen’s comments were consistent with the government’s hopes for a peaceful solution, Koy Kuong said
again that the remarks were merely “a warning”.
The Bangkok Post reported Tuesday that Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban would meet with Hun Sen to discuss the border row.
The report did not specify when and where the meeting would take place, and Koy Kuong said he knew nothing about it.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva downplayed the significance of Hun Sen’s comments, telling AFP: “Whenever he gives interviews to the foreign media, he always has this attitude where he wants to make headlines.”
Abhisit also said Hun Sen’s comments were likely an attempt to retaliate against Thai protests held on September 19, during which 5,000 yellow-shirted protesters from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) gathered in Thailand’s Sisaket province to protest the Thai government’s border policy.
Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) soldiers stationed near the border said Tuesday that they were ready to carry out Hun Sen’s order should Thai soldiers or civilians try to enter disputed territory.
“We will not use dogs, electric bats or shields to prevent them. We have stored enough ammunition to shoot them, and we will follow Prime Minister Hun Sen’s orders,” said Srey Doek, commander of RCAF Division 3. “We will not make him disappointed on this problem.”
He said Thai military officers sent a letter Tuesday asking RCAF officials to stop workers from making repairs to Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda, which is located near the temple, because it was in territory they said was disputed. Srey Doek said he had told the workers to continue with the repairs.
A spokesman at the Thai ministry of foreign affairs in Bangkok declined to comment Tuesday, and officials at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached.