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Ministers scold Thai officials

Council accuses Thailand of misleading media about Red Shirts’ whereabouts

THE Council of Ministers on Tuesday again accused Thai officials of fuelling reports that Red Shirts are hiding out in the Kingdom, after the daily newspaper The Nation reported that leaders of the antigovernment group might be planning “underground operations” from Cambodian soil.

A story published Tuesday by The Nation stated that “many senior red shirts are reportedly hiding in Cambodia while allegedly plotting a third red-shirt rally and even underground operations in the coming months”.

Tith Sothea, a spokesman for the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, said that the article constituted evidence that the Thai government was deliberately misleading its national press.

“Thailand should be honest with Cambodia, and should contact Cambodia to get the true information,” Tith Sothea said.

“It is a shame that the Thai government continues to use the media to publish fake information that could provoke trouble with Cambodia.”

Earlier this month, a report by ASTV, a Thai news station, said Red Shirt leaders Arisman Phongruangrong and Suphorn Atthawong were hiding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town.

In response, the Council of Ministers issued a statement that “false reports have been fabricated again and again by the Thai Vicious Circle aimed at discrediting the Kingdom of Cambodia”.

Last week’s statement also criticised a May 31 report quoting a Thai military official as saying that a group of Cambodian migrant labourers might have been trying to transport alleged “bomb making materials” to Muslim insurgents in Thailand’s restive southern provinces.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn referred questions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spokesmen for which could not be reached for comment.

Also Tuesday, the Banteay Meanchey’s provincial police chief accused Thai officials and soldiers of attempting to clear a section of disputed border territory for the construction of a customs office, saying that an excavator had appeared Saturday at the Boeung Trakoun border crossing between Banteay Meanchey and Sa Kaeo provinces.

Hun Hean said Cambodian and Thai officials had discussed the matter, and that the Thai officials had ultimately decided to halt the planned clearance work.

“There was a tense discussion before we reached an agreement to stop their activities,” Hun Hean said. “If they do not stop, then we will use armed forces to force them to stop.”

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