RCAF Boosts Presence on Phnom Trop After Gunfire Exchange

preah vihear temple – The Cam­bodian army has reinforced troops in the disputed border area on Phnom Trop mountain where Thai and Cambodian forces clashed briefly Oct 3, a senior official said Tuesday.

“We want to make a stronger frontline after the situation occurred Friday,” said Preah Vihear provinci­al deputy governor Sar Thavy, re­ferring to an armed confrontation about 2 km northwest of the Preah Vihear temple Oct 3 that left one Cambodian and two Thai soldiers injured.

Sar Thavy said the troops now stationed at the site of Friday’s skirmish, which involved Thai and Cambodia troops trading au­tomatic weapons fire and rocket- and rifle-launched grenades, were taken from the contingent of troops al­ready present around the temple.

He declined to say how many soldiers have been moved into the Trop mountain area, though the Cambodian troops around Preah Vihear Temple were previously re­ported to number at least 800.

Contacted by telephone, Srey Dek, regional RCAF commander at the temple, said troops had only been sent to patrol the area as he had received information that Thai troops had once again entered the area, which both countries claim as their own.

At Ta Moan temple, another border temple in Oddar Mean­chey province where Thai and Cambodi­an troops are facing off, Neak Vong, the RCAF deputy commander at the temple, confirmed that reinforcements and extra equipment had been sent to the area.

Bun Tean, deputy commander of Brigade 43, the unit whose soldiers were involved in the Oct 3 incident, said that his troops were calm but ready.

“We still keep quiet according to the advice of Samdech Hun Sen,” he said. “We are ready to welcome the Thais in any way if they do us any wrong,” he added.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Som­chai Wongsawat, who is scheduled to visit Cambodia on Monday to discuss the border standoff, met with senior Thai military commanders and government members at the Royal Thai Army headquarters Tues­day to discuss the border dispute, the Bangkok Post reported.

Cambodian Foreign Affairs Min­istry spokesman Koy Kuong said Tuesday that the situation remains stable.

“Everything is calm now,” he said.

Minister of Defense Tea Banh also said Tuesday that the tension had now passed. “It cannot be war…. The shooting is over.”

   (Additional reporting by Isabelle Roughol)


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