Authorities found debris from what they claimed was an unmanned Thai surveillance plane soon after what sounded like explosions above the Preah Vihear temple sent tourists rushing for cover yesterday morning.
A day after discussions drew Cambodia and Thailand closer to withdrawing troops and ending the Preah Vihear border dispute, Choam Ksan district deputy police chief Mey Chhai Yan said authorities had found parts of an “unmanned surveillance plane” they claimed Thai forces had blown up after it had taken pictures of the temple.
“We do not know what the aim of taking the pictures was,” he said. Some parts had fallen around the temple, but had not caused damage.
Villager Sao Yath, a 57-year-old from Choam Ksan district, said he had heard 10 explosions and saw smoke about 10:45am.
“Women were panic-stricken and feared Thais were launching artillery shells,” he said.
Srey Doek, military commander of intervention division 3, stationed near the Preah Vihear temple, said eight pieces, the biggest of which was about a metre long, had been found at gateways 1, 2 and 3 and authorities were searching for more.
The noise and falling parts had sent tourists rushing to find places to hide, he said.
Thai authorities could not be reached for comment.