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Thai trenches draw concern

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Cambodian soldiers practise using a rocket launcher in a trench dug in Preah Vihear province earlier this month.

RCAF officials say Thai soldiers have worked hard to expand their network of trenches along the border in the past month.

MILITARY officials on Monday accused Thai soldiers of stepping up the digging of trenches near the Thai-Cambodian border, with several saying that the Thai trenches were both greater in number and more strongly reinforced than those dug by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).

"The Thai soldiers are increasingly using tyres to make trenches," said RCAF Brigade 8 Commander Yim Phim. "They are placing them everywhere along the front lines."

He said he believed Thai soldiers had in the past month begun asking Thai citizens to provide tyres and other materials as part of a campaign to expand and reinforce their network of trenches along the border.

"They have collected more tyres and they are appealing to their people to provide these tyres for their soldiers to make trenches," Yim Phim said.
"They are very active on this."

He said the trenches were being reinforced in an attempt to provide more protection to soldiers hiding in them, though he said he doubted that the method would be effective.

Bo Sarath, a medic with Brigade 8's Battalion 81, said he had seen Thai soldiers use concrete as well as tyres to reinforce trenches.

He said RCAF soldiers had also built trenches in the area, but that he did not believe any of those had been reinforced with tyres or concrete.

Officials at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment Monday.

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