Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 4: Thailand, Cambodia battle on border

Why does the Thai-Cambodian border dispute continue?

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) – Thai and Cambodian forces battled for a fourth straight day along their disputed border Monday [April 25], as Cambodia accused its neighbor of damaging two ancient temples in weekend clashes.

Southeast Asian diplomats are struggling to end the repeated deadly flare-ups, but Thailand's prime minister appeared to reject outside help Monday, saying the two countries have to resolve the dispute alone.

The fighting on land around temples and several other crumbling stone monuments is rooted in a long-running dispute over where the border should be drawn and has fueled profound nationalistic fervor in both countries for decades.

Field commanders on both sides reported heavy exchanges of fire after nightfall Monday around Ta Krabey temple. Cambodian Col. Suos Sothea said from the front that both sides had fired artillery, mortars, and rifles.

Thai army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd confirmed that account, saying "we could not stay still and allow them to attack. We had to counter responsively."

Both sides have accused each other of starting the latest battles, which by Sunday had killed at least 12 soldiers on both sides and forced 30,000 people in Thailand and another 17,000 in Cambodia to flee. More