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Border shootout a ‘misunderstanding’

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A Cambodian soldier stands guard Sunday near the Preah Vihear temple complex.

CAMBODIAN and Thai officials say skirmishes that broke out along their contentious border on Sunday near Preah Vihear temple were the result of a “misunderstanding”, and have promised a return to peaceful relations.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told Bangkok’s The Nation newspaper that after meetings on Sunday, commanders from the respective armies had agreed that there “would be no escalation of the situation”.

Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said the commanders “agreed not to redeploy troops at that area to avoid further confusion”, adding that the hostilities occurred at a contested area along the border, which has yet to be fully demarcated.“The clash site is a complicated area and a location of illegal logging activities,” he said.

Royal Cambodian Armed Forces officials say Thai troops touched off the hostilities on Sunday by trespassing onto Cambodian territory and opening fire, though Thailand says the RCAF troops were in Thai territory and began shooting first.

No Cambodian soldiers were reported injured; however, Thai media broadcast varying accounts of the clash, with some reporting that two Thai soldiers were wounded and others saying no casualties occurred. Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanyagorn said, however, that Bangkok believed no one was hurt.

“We have received no report of casualties or injuries as of now,” he said.

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