PHNOM PENH, April 25 (Xinhua) — Cambodian and Thai troops exchanged gunfire in the disputed border area for the fourth consecutive day on Monday.
“At 1: 45 p.m. Thai forces had fired six rounds of artillery at the area near Ta Moan temple,” Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat, the spokesman for Cambodian Ministry of Defense, told Xinhua by telephone.
No casualties were available now from the latest clash which marks the fourth straight day of conflict on Thai-Cambodian border. Both sides blamed each other for triggering the clashes.
Meanwhile, Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd, Royal Thai Army spokesperson, told Xinhua that a clash occurred at around 10 a.m. near the 13th-century Ta Muen Thom temple in Phanom Dong Rak district of northeastern Surin province.
“Some four to five artillery shells landed on Thai territory but no further casualty was reported,” Col. Sansern said.
The spokesman also admitted that sporadic skirmishes continued as noise of rifle, machine-gun and mortar were heard continually from the area.
The clashes from April 22 to 24 around Ta Muen Thom temple and Ta Kwai temple, known in Cambodian as Ta Moan temple and Ta Krabei temple respectively, on Thai-Cambodian border left five Thai soldiers dead and at least 25 others wounded. On Cambodian side, there were six troops killed and 16 others wounded during the fighting.
The fresh clashes came after the four-day conflict in February across the disputed border area near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple claimed at least 10 lives of soldiers on both sides.
Chhum Socheat said that despite Thai insistence on bilateral talks with Cambodia to solve the border dispute, Cambodia kept its firm stance to hold talks with Thailand with the third party mediation.
He added that Thai’s ambition was to capture the 13th century Ta Moan temple and Ta Krabei temple in Cambodia’s Oddar Meanchey province, which shares the border with Thailand’s Surin province.
“So far, we have maintained all our bases, and have not lost any positions to Thailand,” he said.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, current rotating ASEAN chair, canceled his original plan to visit Cambodia and Thailand on Monday to discuss sending observers to monitor ceasefire on border between Cambodia and Thailand.
Koy Kuong, spokesman of Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that Marty did not explained the reason for the cancellation and mention when he would rearrange the visit.
“I just suspect that his visit cancellation is due to Thai disagreement to sign the terms of reference for the deployment of the Indonesian observers at disputed border areas to prevent further armed clashes,” he said.
As of Monday afternoon, 21,893 have fled their homes in Oddar Meanchey province’s Samrong district and Banteay Ampil district, some 30 kilometers from the fighting zone, Ly Thuch, chief of the Cambodian National Committee for Disaster Management, told Xinhua by telephone.
“As the situation remains tense, I believe that more Cambodian villagers will continue fleeing home for safe shelters,” he said.