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Thai troops close Ta Moan Thom to Cambodians again

Thai troops close Ta Moan Thom to Cambodians again

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Official delegation refused entry over the weekend says the move violates a recent agreement to resolve border dispute

HENG CHIVOAN

A Cambodian soldier stands guard on the border in this file photo.

THAI soldiers refused to allow Cambodians from visiting the disputed Ta Moan Thom temple over the weekend, violating an agreement to withdraw armed forces from the 13th-century ruins, a military commander said Sunday.

Ho Bunthy, deputy commander of Border Military Unit 402, said that Thai soldiers closed the gate to the temple Saturday and are not allowing Cambodians entry.

"Thai soldiers told us that they have locked the gate because Thai tourists and students are visiting the temple and they are worried that there could be clashes if Cambodians are allowed into the temple at the same time," he said.

Loun An, deputy governor of Oddar Meanchey province, said that he accompanied a delegation from Phnom Penh to Ta Moan Thom on Saturday but that Thai troops refused to allow them to enter.

"Thai soldiers at the gate told our military commanders that they have closed the gate on their commander's order. They refused to open the gate for us even though our military commanders tried to negotiate with them to do so," Loun An said.

"I am disappointed with the Thai decision to close the temple gate. They should understand that the temple belongs to Cambodia and should be under Cambodian control,"  he added.

San Vanna, deputy governor of Oddar Meanchey province who negotiated with Thai military commanders to withdraw their troops from the temple, criticised them for violating the agreement reached a few weeks ago.

"They agreed with us that they would withdraw their armed forces from Ta Moan Thom temple," San Vanna said. "By locking the gate to Cambodians, the Thais have gone back on their promise and violated the reached agreement."

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