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Barbed wire row latest at Preah Vihear

Just a handful of days after plans were announced to begin a de-mining process that would lead to a withdrawal of troops from the Provisional Demilitarised Zone around Preah Vihear temple, accusations are once again being lobbed across the border.

Lieutenant General Srey Doek, commander of Military Division 3 at Preah Vihear, said yesterday that, last month, Thai troops scattered barbed wire and posted markers in front of the temple in violation of an International Court of Justice ruling and have yet to remove them.

“What they did is against the court order,” said Srey Doek. “We have asked them to stop the activity and take it out, but they did not do it yet.”

According to the general, the situation along the border has been calm and troops on both sides have been meeting regularly to exchange information and avoid confrontation.

“I think they are [placing barbed wire] to prevent their people visiting the temple,” he said.

The UN’s highest court ruled last July that troops from Cambodia and Thailand must withdraw from the demilitarised zone around the temple.

Nearly a year later, neither side has implemented the order.

The Joint Working Group of the General Border Committee met last week in Phnom Penh to discuss implementation of the ICJ order.

The group’s second meeting ended with an agreement to jointly de-mine the PDZ area and then withdraw troops 30 days after the completion of mine clearance.

Cambodia and Thailand have never fully demarcated their 805-kilometre shared border, and troops on both sides have exchange gunfire several times since 2008, killing at least 28 people and displacing thousands of families.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cheang Sokha at sokha.cheang@phnompenhpost.com

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