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Reignited Thai-Cambodia border clashes leave five dead
Clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops early on Friday left five dead and broke a two-month respite in tensions along the two countries’ disputed border.
It was the first serious outbreak of hostilities in two months after fighting near the 900 year old Hindu temple Preah Vihear left 10 dead in February, impelling the UN to appeal for a permanent ceasefire.
Friday’s fighting near a different group of temples left three Cambodian and two Thai soldiers dead, prompting Indonesia, the current chair of the south-east Asian group of nations, Asean, to call for an immediate end to the violence.
Both sides blamed each other for the clashes.
Cambodia accused Thai troops of entering into its territory first, whilst Thailand’s Defence Minister said Cambodian soldiers fired at their Thai counterparts first, causing them to retaliate.
“I think Cambodia wanted to take over temples on the border,” said Thai Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon.
The Thai-Cambodian border has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from a decade of war in Cambodia.
Cambodia has called for outside mediation to end the stalemate, but Thailand insists the dispute should be resolved through bilateral talks.