News24

Thai-Cambodian border quiet after clashes

2011-02-08 10:46

Preahvihear - Cambodian and Thai troops held their fire on Tuesday as the UN Security Council said it was willing to meet to discuss four days of deadly border clashes near a disputed 11th-century temple.

No new fighting has broken out since brief skirmishes early on Monday, but a Cambodian military commander stationed near the temple said the situation remained "tense".

"We are still on alert," said the source, who did not wish to be named.

The unrest, which first broke out on Friday, has left five Cambodians and two Thais dead, including at least one civilian on each side.

Phnom Penh says that Thai artillery fire had damaged the Preah Vihear temple at the centre of the standoff.

Thousands of families on both sides of the frontier have been displaced by the violence.

Many have been forced to seek shelter in camps, schools and pagodas in villages farther away from the border as they wait for hostilities to end.

Both Thailand and Cambodia have written to the UN Security Council twice about the border unrest, with Bangkok accusing Phnom Penh of seeking to use "internationalisation" of the conflict.

UN buffer zone

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned that regional stability was at risk from what he described as "Thailand's aggression".

Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the Brazilian ambassador who is the current president of the UN Security Council, said its members would be willing to meet to discuss the dispute.

Hun Sen has asked for UN troops to be sent to the area to create a "buffer zone".

Both sides have accused each other of starting the fighting and using heavy weapons.

It is unclear exactly what triggered the latest bout of violence, but diplomatic frictions have grown since late December when seven Thais, including one lawmaker, were arrested by Cambodia near the border for illegal entry.

Ties between the neighbours have been strained since Preah Vihear was granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear itself belonged to Cambodia but both countries claim ownership of a surrounding area.