RCAF soldiers and border police had a non-violent confrontation in Banteay Meanchey province on Wednesday, as soldiers attempted to set up a new position at the Thai border in Poipet City, a military official and a rights worker said yesterday.
Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said local villagers had been scared by the confrontation, which he claimed involved about 20 armed officers on each side.
“Local villagers reported to us that they were frightened to see the armed soldiers jumping off the truck and running through the forest like they were fighting on a battlefield,” Mr Chankea said. “Although neither party opened fire, they both showed their muscles as a warning to each other.”
Lieutenant Colonel Born Bin, deputy commander for the provincial RCAF headquarters, said yesterday that his forces had met opposition from border police on Wednesday when they attempted to establish a new base about 1 km from a border police post Poipet commune.
“It was not a violent confrontation, because border police from unit 911 just misunderstood and stopped our forces from building a post for national security protection,” Lt Col Bin said.
“I think the border police stopped my forces building the post there because they were worried their interests may be harmed…. The area is situated in forest that is a notorious zone for illegal border crossings and illegal goods smuggling.”
Lt Col Bin said the brief confrontation between soldiers and police ended peacefully after police were informed that provincial authorities had authorized the creation of the new RCAF base, and three others nearby. He said his officers would proceed with the construction of the remaining bases today.
Chhouk Ang, Banteay Meanchey border police unit 911 commander, said the confrontation was a non-issue. “Everything is over and has been resolved,” he said, adding that his officers had never been involved in assisting people cross the Thai border illegally or smuggling goods.