Clashes resume between Cambodia and Thailand in disputed border region
(27 April 2011)
Clashes between Cambodian and Thai troops have been ongoing for several days, beginning on 22 April 2011. While previous clashes have focused around the disputed temple of Preah Vihear, including in February 2011 which saw the death of several troops and civilians, the recent conflict has taken place over 100 miles west of that location. Reports have suggested that artillery fire exchanged by each side has centred on two temples located close by to the undemarcated border, Ta Krabey and Ta Moan. As with previous skirmishes, both Cambodian and Thai officials have placed the blame on each other for starting the exchange of artillery fire. Cambodia has also made unconfirmed reports that Thai shelling has resulted in damage to the temples, similar to the claims it made in February regarding the Preah Vihear temple. Reports suggest twelve soldiers have been killed, while 36,000 people have been displaced. It has also been claimed by Cambodia that several Thai nationals have been taken in to custody under allegations of spying, however these remain unconfirmed.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has again requested that the two countries cease fighting and resume talks to resolve the matter. Marty Natalegawa, the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), who has been heading up efforts to deploy Indonesian observers to the disputed border regions, has cancelled a planned trip to both countries. Thailand had previously refused the presence of military observers and other third-party groups from entering the disputed areas. On 25 April, Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva remained committed to his stance that bilateral talks could resolve the dispute.
On Tuesday 26 April, reports suggested that the fighting had spread east, returning to the Preah Vihear temple.
Source: ‘Thai-Cambodia clashes spread east to Preah Vihear’, BBC News, 26 April 2011; ‘Thailand and Cambodia resume fighting along border’, BBC News, 25 April 2011; ‘Thai, Cambodia troops clash again; peace hopes fade’, New York Times, April 25 2011