ROYAL Cambodian Armed Forces deputy commander Chea Dara told an audience at the Council of Ministers on Wednesday that Cambodian troops have killed 88 Thai troops along the countries’ contentious border near Preah Vihear temple, compared with just two Cambodian troops killed by the Thais.
Speaking in front of an audience of several hundred government officials and parliamentarians, Chea Dara extolled Cambodian troops’ valour, affirming that the RCAF will defend the Kingdom against any incursion.
“I came here to talk about the triumph in which we shot and killed 38 Thai soldiers in October of 2008 and another 50 Thai soldiers in April” of 2009, Chea Dara said. “After the fight, we helped the Thai soldiers find the dead bodies of their colleagues, and they have never dared to fight again.”
Thai troops, Chea Dara added, were doomed to sustain casualties because of their poor tactics.
“The Thai soldiers were odd – they looked down on us and dared to pursue our soldiers, but we were patient when we opened fire on them because we needed to ensure stability for the national elections in July of 2008,” Chea Dara said.
Veerachon Sukondhadhpatipak, deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, said he did not have exact totals at hand, but called Chea Dara’s figures on Thai casualties extremely unrealistic. News reports have cited just seven soldiers in total from both sides killed since hostilities first began in 2008.
“It’s impossible. 88? No way,” Veerachon said. He speculated that Cambodian figures had perhaps been inflated by false reports from low-level troops.
“Every time when they attack, they might want to report that they were able to do something, do the damage to the Thai soldiers,” Veerachon said. “If it is something that makes [commanders] happy, they just accept the information, regardless of if it’s true or false.”
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An congratulated the RCAF forces for bravely performing their duties.
“Thai soldiers violated Cambodian sovereignty after Preah Vihear temple was listed as a World Heritage site, but we were successful in protecting our sovereignty,” he said.
Cambodian and Thai troops have exchanged fire intermittently along their border near Preah Vihear temple since 2008, when Thailand contested the temple’s inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage site for Cambodia. Skirmishes broke out most recently in January of this year, though no one was hurt.