Hun Sen Plays Down Impact of Latest Border Clash With Thailand

Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that a brief clash between Cambodian and Thai soldiers at the border in Oddar Meanchey province on Tuesday would not lead to further armed conflict at the disputed borderline.

During a speech at a university graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh yesterday, Mr Hun Sen said that Tuesday’s fighting may have been the result of “confusion” between the two forces.

RCAF officials say that the brief confrontation occurred after Cambodian and Thai troops encountered one another as they were patrolling the border in Trapaing Prasat district’s O’Svay commune at about 9:40 am on Tuesday. While estimates vary about how long the firefight lasted, no one was reported injured by either side.

“It is just the minor issue…. It was just an ambush attack,” Mr Hun Sen said in his speech. “The clash yesterday [Tuesday] was not a significant clash which leads to armed conflict in other areas.”

Mr Hun Sen called on troops from both countries to solve their problem peacefully.

“The clash may have been caused by confusion,” he said. “We want to eliminate that dispute and [find] the resolution.”

RCAF officers stationed in Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear provinces yesterday reported that the situation at the border was normal.

Lieutenant General Nuon Nov, deputy commander for RCAF Military Region 4, said normalcy returned after the fighting and a meeting between RCAF and Thai officials.

Lt Gen Nov said he believed that the clash started because of Thailand’s policy of rotating soldiers through different positions, meaning Thai forces never get familiar with their surroundings.

“It’s because Thailand rotates the forces a lot, so they are surprised to see us during their patrol,” Lt Gen Nov said.

The commander of the RCAF base at Preah Vihear temple-where fighting between the two nations has occurred sporadically over the past two years-said that the situation at the temple had remained calm during the fighting in nearby Oddar Meanchey province on Tuesday.

“For now, the situation is normal,” Major General Srey Dek said.


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