A National Police report on border issues found incursions by Thailand – many in the form of surveillance drones flown into Cambodia airspace – were the most common infringement by a neighbouring country in 2017.
The report, released on Tuesday, outlined 388 physical violations of Cambodia’s land and sea borders, as well as its airspace. Of those, the vast majority – 365 – originated in Thailand. Fifteen border incidents were recorded from Vietnam and eight from Laos.
“We have seen in the past that mostly it is Thailand who has flown its drones and wants to see the situation because [they are] afraid of having any issues, or to observe us,” National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith said yesterday.
He characterised such actions as “normal along the border”, but said drones drifting into Cambodian territory would be recorded as violations.
The drone incursions aren't the first. In 2014, a drone crashed near the Preah Vihear temple once at the centre of heated border clashes with Thailand and the site of large military build-up. Though investigators at the time weren't sure where the drone originated, they noted that it was the third such incident "since the temple dispute with Thailand".
Other incidents involved Thai border forces occasionally crossing into Cambodian territory while placing barbed wire, cases that would be referred to a national border committee to resolve.
“If we do not care about the small issue, it can become another issue that we find difficult to solve in the future,” he said.