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Soldiers fire shots near Thai border

CAMBODIAN and Thai troops exchanged warning shots along the border in Oddar Meanchey province’s Trapaing Prasat district on Tuesday morning after a “misunderstanding” emerged between the two sides, government and military officials said.

Touch Ra, deputy chief of the Thailand-Cambodia Relations Office at the Chom international border gate, said troops from both sides let off short bursts of small-arms fire along the border in Chhouk Ron commune at around 9:45am.

“There was a clash between Thai and Cambodian soldiers this morning when they were patrolling,” he said. “The situation is now normal after commanders at the site of the fighting talked to each other by phone.”

He added that no soldiers from either side were injured in the incident.

Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said that the clash – which lasted for about six minutes – began when a group of around 10 patrolling Cambodian soldiers met a group of Thai mixed forces, including forestry officers, police and soldiers.

“We supposed they were illegal and they supposed we were illegal, and then the clash occurred,” he said.

An earlier exchange of fire in Oddar Meanchey province took place on April 19, when troops traded shots in two brief skirmishes in Samrong district.

According to one Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) officer stationed at the border, Cambodian soldiers opened fire on Tuesday after they saw Thai soldiers patrolling inside a prohibited area.

“They fired in the air in order to frighten them and make them return to their base,” said the officer, who declined to be named.

Sao Socheat, the deputy commander of Military Region 4, said Thai commanders apologised afterwards.

But Colonel Veerachon Sukondhadhpatipak, deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Army, said he was informed Monday that the Thais fired warning shots when they saw Cambodian soldiers illegally removing timber from the Thai side of the border.

“They found that logs were burned, and this made them upset, and they released their anger and frustration by shooting in the air,” he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong denied that allegation, saying the incident was the result of a misunderstanding between the two sides.

He added that it would have little effect on the already frosty relations between Cambodia and Thailand. “The problem has been solved by the commanders at the border. The situation is normal now,” he said.

Meanwhile, RCAF commanders stationed along the border in Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear provinces began military training sessions Monday designed to prepare them for Thai encroachments, military officials said.

Yim Phim, commander of RCAF Brigade 8, said Tuesday that he is attending the training sessions, which will take place in Preah Vihear’s Choam Ksan district and last for 35 days.

“We all have decades of experience in fighting, but we need to exchange experience with other people to strengthen our ability,” he said. RCAF officers stationed in Military Region 4 are attending the training, along with officers stationed along the border in Preah Vihear province, Yim Phim added.

IN DATES: nearly two years of border tension

July 8, 2008
October 15, 2008
April 3, 2009
January 25, 2010
April 19, 2010
June 8, 2010
UNESCO lists Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site despite Thai objections. Thai protests at the border lead to a rapid military buildup at disputed areas around the temple and elsewhere along the border.
Thai and Cambodian troops engage in firefights near Preah Vihear temple, killing three Cambodian troops and injuring two others. Seven Thais are injured in the fighting, and one later dies of his injuries.
Troops from the two countries engage in a heavy gunfight at Preah Vihear temple, leaving at least three Thai soldiers and two Cambodian soldiers dead and another five Thai soldiers wounded.
Troops exchange rocket and automatic weapons fire near Preah Vihear temple. Cambodia claims Thai troops entered Cambodian territory, whereas Thailand says its troops discovered Cambodian soldiers logging illegally on Thai soil.
Soldiers from both sides exchange fire in Oddar Meanchey’s Samrong district over a Cambodian settlement lying on land claimed by both countries. No casualties on either side are reported.
Soldiers fire warning shots in a border area close to Oddar Meanchey’s Trapaing Prasat district after a “misunderstanding” emerges between Thai and Cambodian troops. Again, no casualties are reported on either side.
WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SAM RITH

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