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Preah Vihear security on alert for weekend heritage ceremony

Preah Vihear security on alert for weekend heritage ceremony

RCAF forces and bodyguards deploy at the temple to ensure security at the inauguration of the World Heritage site this weekend

DISPUTED HERITAGE

Tensions have run high at the eleventh-century Hindu temple since July, when  Unesco announced it would be listed as a World Heritage site. Thailand opposed the listing, triggering off a build-up of troops at points along the Thai-Cambodian border.

MILITARY commanders stationed at the disputed Preah Vihear temple say security will be good when senior government officials visit the temple this weekend for a Unesco World Heritage inauguration ceremony.

"We will have a big ceremony at the temple attended by top government officials, diplomats and other organisations, but I cannot tell which government officials will attend for reasons of security," said Hang Soth, director of the Preah Vihear authority.

"Security is good because we have armed forces stationed there."

Kim Sangath, deputy general director of the Council of Ministers, said Deputy Prime Minister Sok An would travel to the temple this weekend, but  he could not confirm rumours Prime Minister Hun Sen would attend the ceremony.

Hing Bunheang, Hun Sen's bodyguard commander, said he had not yet been informed of a trip to the temple, but said sufficient security would be in place should the prime minister wish to attend.

"One thousand [bodyguards] are already at Preah Vihear temple.... Security is confirmed if the prime minister visits the temple because it is in our territory," he said.

Whether or not he attends, Hun Sen said that he looked forward to seeing the temple established as a World Heritage site.

"We are currently awaiting another splendid event to be held at Preah Vihear temple," he said in a ceremony Monday at Angkor Wat celebrating the placing of new World Heritage inscriptions. "We will celebrate tremendously according to its wonderful value."

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