Troops from Thailand, Cambodia in border clash

April 23, 2011 - 0:0

BANGKOK (AP) -– Thailand and Cambodia exchanged artillery and gunfire for several hours along their disputed frontier Friday in a new flare-up of their long-running conflict. Military officials on both sides said at least four soldiers were killed.

It was the first skirmish reported since the two Southeast Asian countries battled for four straight days in February at the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, killing at least eight people.
Serm Chainarong, the governor of Thailand's Surin province where the fighting happened, said authorities there were preparing to evacuate about 5,000 people.
It was unclear what sparked the violence.
Cambodian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Chhum Socheat said the clash took place around another disputed temple in Ta Krabey, about 155 miles (250 kilometers) west of Preah Vihear.
Chhum said three Cambodian soldiers were killed and six wounded. He said both sides had used rocket launchers, machine guns and rifles. A front line commander also said artillery was used.
Thai Army Spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd told The Associated Press the latest skirmishes erupted after dawn. Another spokesperson, Lt. Col. Siriya Khuangsirikul, said one Thai soldier had been killed and artillery had been used.
Siriya said both sides ""are in the middle of negotiating a cease-fire.""
The conflict is rooted in a decades-old border dispute over ancient temples and the land surrounding them, which has fueled nationalist passions on both sides.
Tensions between the neighbors have been exacerbated in recent months in part by pressure from powerful Thai nationalist groups, which have staged protests in Bangkok urging the government to reclaim the land.
Clashes have erupted several times since 2008, when Preah Vihear was given UN World Heritage status.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters his government was investigating the cause of the clash and said despite a pause in fighting, the situation remained volatile.
""What we would like reiterate is the position of troops of both countries are close to each other. Therefore, any movement can lead to clashes,"" Abhisit said.