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PM orders temple road built

PM orders temple road built

Ta Moan Thom temple to be linked to nearby town, will be closer to soldiers

Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered military engineers to build a new 9km road from Prey Veng village in Oddar Meanchey province to the Ta Moan Thom temple complex near the Thai-Cambodian border in a cabinet meeting last week.

Funding for the road will come from a foundation established by the Cambodia Television Network (CTN) to provide support for troops currently stationed along the border, said Tok Kimsay, director of the foundation.

"We are appealing to the general public and to wealthy donors to help fund the road to Ta Moan Thom," Tok Kimsay said. "We believe people will contribute because the road will help protect the sovereignty of the Kingdom."

Thai soldiers occupied the Ta Moan Thom temple complex following an escalation in the dispute at Preah Vihear that began in July. They withdrew on August 5 after an agreement was reached between Thai and Cambodian leaders in Oddar Meanchey province, but appear to have reoccupied the ruins over the weekend, military commanders say.

The new road will run from Prey Veng village to a checkpoint gate constructed by Thai forces to prevent civilians and soldiers from accessing the temple.

Heavy rains have made access to the area difficult for soldiers and local residents. "Now we can reach the temple only by tractor or on foot," said Ho Bunthy, deputy commander of Border Military Unit 402.

"Our soldiers have been guarding the temple for years, and we've had to do so on foot during the rainy season. The new road will help us more effectively defend the border."

CTN's Tok Kimsay said the lack of roads prevented Cambodian soldiers from getting to the site quickly and allowed Thai soldiers to strengthen their foothold at the temple.

He added that the CTN foundation has already received nearly US$400,000, which it has used to purchase food and supplies for soldiers at Preah Vihear, Anlong Veng district and Ta Moan Thom.

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