Generals agree to measures they hope will keep the peace in disputed
areas after Wednesday's fighting; Cambodia says it has released 13
Photo by: AFP
Cambodian General Chea Morn (left) listens to his Thai counterpart
Vibonsak Niphan (right) during a meeting near Preah Vihear temple on
CAMBODIAN military commanders agreed
Thursday to release 13 Thai troops captured during fighting near Preah
Vihear the day before in talks on the border with their Thai
The two sides also said they would not increase troop numbers along the
disputed frontier, where growing tensions over territory claimed by
both flared Wednesday in a clash that killed at least two Cambodians.
A third Cambodian soldier died overnight, apparently from inhaling the
exhaust from his B-40 rocket launcher, military officers said.
"The result of the meeting was good. It did a lot to reduce the problem
here," said General Chea Morn, commander for Military Region 4, who
attended the talks.
Troops on the front line woke to a tense calm following the worst
outbreak of violence since the military standoff at border flash points
began in July.
Standing amid tattered tent covers and bullet-pocked tree trunks,
Cambodian soldier Nuth Dara described how Thai soldiers dropped their
weapons and fled Wednesday's eruption of rocket- and gunfire.
"We should not allow them to come back and collect their weapons," he
said, adding that the two sides, who had been camping together for
weeks, had never wanted to fight each other.
"We all hope the top leaders of government find a solution as soon as possible to end this problem," he said.
Military leaders from both sides held separate talks Thursday in Thailand, agreeing to introduce joint border patrols.
"We will introduce the joint patrol to avoid this kind of incident
happening again," said Lieutenant General Wiboonsak Neeparn, Thailand's
northeastern army commander.
But Wiboonsak said little headway was made on withdrawing troops from a
number of disputed border areas. "The meeting has not made much
progress, but the two sides agreed to stay where they are," he said,
adding that Thailand had no plans to remove any of its heavy weaponry
along the border.
Wiboonsak said senior military officials would meet Tuesday in Siem Reap, but cautioned that more fighting was possible.
"Thailand keeps our promise, but if Cambodia does not it may happen again." he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP