Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cambodia Clash -- From the Nation

Cambodia claims Thailand violated airspace
By Deutsche Presse Agentur
Phnom Penh - Thailand violated Cambodian airspace hours before a border skirmish erupted on Wednesday, Cambodian officials said. 

Cambodian and Thai soldiers on Wednesday exchanged gunfire in a disputed zone near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on the Thai-Cambodian border called Eagle Field, or Eagle Terrace, 300 kilometres north of the Cambodian capital, which is an important strategic point for access to Preah Vihear.

 "The Thai injuries were worse, but there were casualties on both sides," the director-general of Cambodia's Preah Vihear authority, which oversees the site, said by telephone.

 "The Thai fighter jet came 8:50 am and again at 10.07 am to disturb our airspace. Cambodian soldiers wanted to fight then, but they were placated for a while.

 "I do not know why fighting happened at 2.15 until 3.30 pm because I was not there," the head of Cambodia's Preah Vihear authority, Hang Soth, said by telephone from a meeting in Phnom Penh.

 He said there were casualties on both sides, but that the Thai side had borne the brunt of duel M-79, B-40 and AK-47 exchanges.

 Cambodian authorities said all civilians had fled the area and it was now regarded by both sides as a conflict zone.

 The Wednesday shoot-out at Eagle Terrage is important to the ongoing dispute over the Preah Vihear temple because whoever controls that area controls access to the temple, which is sacred to both sides.

 A similar clash at the same site on October 3 left two Thai soldiers and one Cambodian wounded.