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Thais seize border rice paddies: military

THAI soldiers have prevented two Cambodian farmers from cultivating rice paddies along the border in Banteay Meanchey province's O'Chrov district, Cambodian military officials based in the area said Sunday.

Sing Touch, deputy commander of Border Military Unit 503, said 15 armed Thai soldiers forced farmers in O'Chrov district's Sila village to cease their cultivation Friday, claiming their were operating illegally on Thai soil.

"Farmers have temporarily ceased their cultivation because we are working to resolve this with the Thai soldiers. Then they will be able to continue their farming," he said Sunday.

"These soldiers have constantly tried stirring up problems along the border by claiming land here and there without respect for Cambodian sovereignty. Cambodian farmers have farmed rice on this land for many years."

Sar Chhong, deputy police chief of O'Chrov district, said the two Cambodian farmers have worked their 14-hectare lot since about 1993 and criticised the actions of the Thai military.

"We see that the Thai soldiers are attempting to make problems along their border with Cambodia. There is no reason to demand that Cambodian farmers stop farming their land."

He added that on questions of sovereignty, local officials could do little and that the incident had been reported to higher levels of government.

Provincial Governor Ung Oeun said he was too busy to provide a comment Sunday.

Thai embassy officials could not be reached for comment.

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