Nighttime Blast Startles Border Troops

An anti-personnel mine exploded near Preah Vihear temple late Tuesday night, briefly startling Cambodian and Thai troops but injuring no one, military and police officials said Wednesday.

RCAF Region 4 Commander Chea Morn said the mine exploded at 11 pm at a disputed location 4 km from the temple on Phnom Trop in Choam Ksan district’s Kantuot commune.

“We suspect an animal stepped on it late at night in the forest. No one was injured,” he said.

Provincial border police officer Chim Phea, who is stationed near the blast site, said troops told him Wed­nesday they had woken with a start after the blast. Thai troops had also.

“When the mine exploded during the night, both sides prepared with guns for tension,” he said.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Wednesday that Cambodia intends to stage a press conference at Preah Vihear temple on Nov 7 to discuss preservation of the recently listed World Heritage Site and that Thai Embassy officials would be invited to attend.

Cambodia has complained to Unesco about temple damage from Thai grenades, which the government said occurred during a deadly hourlong border clash Oct 15. Thailand denies hitting the temple.

For the press conference, three signs will be erected noting both the temple’s World Heritage status and its protection by Unesco, Phay Siphan said, adding that officials have yet to determine how many times the temple was struck during the battle.

“We have announced that Preah Vihear temple is a World Heritage site and cannot be violated,” Phay Siphan added.

Chim Chheum, chief of Beng commune in Oddar Meanchey province’s Samraong district, also said Wednesday that district officials had decided to conduct a lottery to draft a total of 95 men from 19 villages across the district to replace RCAF deserters and soldiers who exist on paper only.

Officials said last week they planned to begin enlisting volunteers in four of Oddar Meanchey’s districts. Chim Chheum said his district had not received enough volunteers and would proceed with a lottery, which will conclude Jan 30.


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