Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thais back at Ta Moan Thom temple as border row simmers



Thais back at Ta Moan Thom temple as border row simmers

Thais back at Ta Moan Thom temple as border row simmers

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Violating an agreement reached on August 5, Thai soldiers bar Cambodians from entering the disputed border ruins

AFP

Thai soldiers walk at a pagoda near Preah Vihear temple on August 2, 2008.

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HAI soldiers have reoccupied the Ta Moan Thom temple and have prohibited Cambodian soldiers, government officials and journalists from entering the site, breaking an agreement reached a week ago that they would withdraw.

"Thai soldiers returned to the disputed site on August 8," Ho Bunthy, deputy commander of Border Military Unit 402, said Sunday. "They have closed the gate to the temple. Only a few Cambodian civilians are allowed access and Cambodian soldiers who want to get into the temple must be wearing civilian clothes."

Thai soldiers withdrew from Ta Moan Thom temple on August 5 after an agreement was reached between Cambodian and Thai leaders at a meeting at the O'Smach checkpoint led by San Vanna, deputy governor of Oddar Meanchey province.

Ho Bunthy said that Thai soldiers have violated the agreement reached that day and are now stationed 15 metres from the Ta Moan Thom temple, which he said is inside Cambodian territory.

"I don't understand why they have seized control of the temple again just three days after they agreed to withdraw their soldiers, nor why they don't allow Cambodian soldiers to patrol the site as was agreed at the meeting," Ho Bunthy added.

Moeung Sonn, president of the nationalistic Khmer Civilisation Foundation (KCF), told the Post that about 10 Thai soldiers at the Ta Moan Thom temple refused entry to approximately 80 Cambodians on Friday, including KCF members, nuns and 50 monks due to its status as a white (disputed) zone.

"We were refused access to the temple to pray for peace. They asked us to speak to Thai authorities about gaining access," Moeung Sonn said.

"We were forced to conduct the ceremony at the temple gate."

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