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Yellow Shirt protest foiled by Thai troops

MORE than 100 members of the Thai People’s Alliance for Democracy – better known as the Yellow Shirts – have held abortive protests at disputed locations along the Thai-Cambodian border in Banteay Meanchey province in recent days, military officials said.

Chhuok Ang, commander of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Border Protection Battalion 911, said yesterday that Yellow Shirt protestors gathered inside Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province close to the Cambodian border on Monday.

About 100 protesters then attempted to sneak past Thai border patrols and cross into Poipet commune in O’Chrov district, he said, and another 50 made a similar move yesterday.

“They attempted to cross into Cambodia and to mark the border by themselves in the areas where it has not yet been resolved by the Joint Border Committee,” he said. “They wanted to create turmoil at the border.”

Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said that despite the Yellow Shirts’ best attempts to enter Cambodia, they were turned back by Thai border troops.

“The situation along the Thai-Cambodian border has remained calm because the Thai soldiers were able to bar them from crossing and cooperate well with Cambodian soldiers,” he said.

Thani Thongphakdi, deputy spokesman for the Thai Foreign Ministry, said yesterday that he was unaware of the protests.

Also yesterday, government officials dismissed Thai media reports that Prime Minister Hun Sen had ordered the release of three Thais arrested for crossing illegally into Cambodia last week.

On August 18, authorities in Oddar Meanchey province arrested Sanong Wongcharoen, 36, Lim Puangpet, 39, and Lan Sapsri, 53. The three have been charged with illegal entry and the illegal use of weapons and are being held at Siem Reap provincial prison.

The Nation newspaper yesterday quoted Raphee Pongbuppakit, the governor of Thailand’s Surin province, as saying that Hun Sen had already ordered the men’s release, but Siem Reap governor Sou Phirin rejected the reports. “The information was a lie and the prime minister will tell me if he orders [the men’s] release,” he said.

Heng Hak, director general of the Department of Prisons at the Ministry of Interior, also denied receiving any orders to release the three men.

“I have not received any order at all,” he said. “They are currently in detention, and we have put them in a cell with other prisoners.”

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