Thailand Increases Troops Near Preah Vihear Temple: RCAF

Cambodian troops are on high alert after Thailand sent 20 new troops to the disputed Veal Entry area near Preah Vihear temple Dec 3, reinforcing the approximately 450 troops already stationed there, an RCAF official said Sunday.

The Thai military said the troops were replacements, not reinforcements.

The Thai troops arrived at positions adjacent to Veal Intry, or Eagle Field, and started reinforcing existing trenches as well as digging new trenches, according to RCAF Re­gion 4 Secretary-General of Staff Nark Vong.

“Twenty Thai troops entered nearby Veal Entry and started digging the trenches. We have re­ceived orders to increase preparations [in case of an attack],” Nark Vong said by telephone Sunday.

Cam­bodian troops are now on “high alert” along the border, he added.

However, Thai military spokes­man Colonel Werachon Su­kond­­ha­p­atipak said by telephone from Bangkok on Sunday that Thailand had not increased the number of troops, but rather the new troops were just part of a rotation to relieve forces stationed at the border.

The first violence along the border between Thai and Cambodian troops erupted in early October at Veal Entry, with a larger gun battle ensuing a few days later. Since that time the situation has been stable at the temple, with both sides agreeing to pull out of Veal Entry.

Speaking by telephone from the An Sec corridor about 30 km east of Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear provincial RCAF com­mander Som Bopharoath said he was not aware of any new Thai troops at the border nor had he received orders to increase preparedness, but he added that troops along the border are al­ways on high alert.

Even if new Thai troops did enter the area, it would not affect negotiations between the two countries, as talks have been put on hold since the Thai Consti­tu­tional Court dissolved the Thai gov­ernment Nov 26, said Var Kimhong, Cam­bodia chairman of the Joint Border Commission.

(Additional reporting by Cajsa Collin)

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