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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai soldiers claim another Cambodian temple, military says

Thai soldiers claim another Cambodian temple, military says

Thai soldiers have moved into Ta Krabey temple, but military commanders say negotiation will be used to solve the problem

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Cambodian soldiers are ill-prepared to face Thais in actual combat, said the SRP's Yim Sovann. "The government has about 8,000 generals. They are enjoying their luxury cars in Phnom Penh instead of being sent to the border to defend Cambodia."

MORE than 100 Thai soldiers seized control of the Kingdom's Ta Krabey temple Wednesday evening and are refusing to leave, despite the best efforts of some 50 Cambodian soldiers who remain at the site, military commanders stationed at the border said.

Ho Bunthy, deputy commander of Border Military Unit 402, said that Cambodian soldiers - who have controlled the small temple for years - tried to defend the site by shooting in the air but that the Thai soldiers still marched in.

"They dared to enter because they know Cambodian soldiers got the orders not to use violence and shoot," Ho Bunthy said.

The Wednesday night incursion involved around 100 Thai soldiers who had previously tried to prevent Cambodian troops from accessing the temple by cutting down trees and using them to block the entry road.

"Thai soldiers cut trees down on the road around 13 kilometres away from Ta Krabey temple on Wednesday afternoon to prevent our armed forces from walking to this temple and help them to send their troops to enter the temple in the evening," Ho Bunthy said.

Ho Bunthy said that before the Thai soldiers entered the temple he ordered 50 Cambodian soldiers to stand in a "fence" formation to try to prevent them from entering but to no avail, adding that the Thais had been eyeing the temple for days.

Negotiations again

Chea Morn, commander of Military Region 4, said that military commanders on both sides are trying to solve the problem through negotiation. "We are standing at the temple together now and we will negotiate with Thai military commanders later on," he said.

It is a big problem when two countries are at war. we are trying to avoid it.

"If we tried to prevent the Thai soldiers from entering the temple, there would be a clash between the two sides so we will let the border committee demarcate first," Chea Morn said.
"It is a big problem when two countries are at war. We are trying to avoid it," he added. 

San Vanna, deputy governor of Oddar Meanchey province, said that he has been informed about the Thai soldiers occupying the Ta Krabey temple. "It saddens me to hear about this. The Thai soldiers shouldn't have entered the temple."

Yim Sovann, opposition Sam Rainsy Party's parliamentarian, criticised the government for taking a weak stance against Thailand.

"It is embarrassing that our government is too weak to defend our nation," he said.

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