Laotian Soldiers Suspend Construction of Cambodian Border Post

Nearly 20 Laotian soldiers interrupted Cambodian border police clearing grass and small trees in Stung Treng province on Sunday afternoon and prevented them from building a one-person border-crossing post inside an undemarcated area, an official said.

Provincial military commander Svay Nhan said on Monday that the Laotian soldiers ordered the border officers to abandon plans to construct the small wooden post at Thala Barivat district’s Anlong Morakot crossing.

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Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, right, shakes hands with his Laotian counterpart, Saleumxay Kommasith, in Phnom Penh in January. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The site is about 7 km from Laos’ Trapaing Kriel International Checkpoint, within a stretch of disputed territory where both countries had previously agreed not to construct any new buildings until a joint border committee demarcates the area, Brigadier General Nhan said.

The construction of a new Laotian army base in the same district about one year ago sparked protests from the Cambodian side. Laotian authorities threatened violence if they were prevented from building the post, prompting Cambodian soldiers to be put on standby.

Brig. Gen. Nhan said the latest border dispute was probably a response to Cambodia’s efforts to stop the construction last year.

“In my opinion, Laos came to prevent Cambodian border police because last year they had prevented [Laos] from attempting to build a concrete construction where both countries have not yet demarcated boundaries,” he said.

“It’s a complicated issue,” he added.

He said Cambodians had not previously required border passes for crossing into Laos at the Anlong Morakot corridor; however, Laotian authorities on Monday morning started refusing entry to anyone without a crossing ticket.

“Now, if Cambodians want to cross into Laos, they have to go to Trapaing Kriel checkpoint to get the border crossing ticket,” before coming back to Anlong Morakot, he said.

Sun Ban, chief of Border Protection Police Unit 701, the unit that oversees the crossing, and Stung Treng provincial government spokesman Men Kung declined comment on the matter.

The two countries faced off in February after more than 400 armed Laotian soldiers poured into Cambodian territory to stop construction on a 257-km road in Stung Treng province running from Stung Treng City to Siem Pang district.

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