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Pattaya Daily News

27 October 2008 :: 12:10:57 pm 40971

Thailand Denies Physically Damaging Preah Vihear Temple

BANGKOK, Oct 27 - Thailand has denied media reports in which Cambodia alleged that Thai troops had fired rockets near the ancient Preah Vihear temple during a border skirmish this month which caused damage to Naga statues along the stairways leading up to the temple.
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The Cambodian government reportedly filed a complaint with UNESCO, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, which servces as a woldwide conservator and registry of important cultural and historical monuments. Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Sunday categorically denying the allegations.

The statement said the ministry has consulted and reviewed the military actions at and around Preah Vihear with the Royal Thai Army’s 2nd Army Region, which confirmed that on October 15, Thai soldiers being fired upon by Cambodian troops in the vicinity of Pha Mor I Daeng used only rifles in self-defense.

In accordance with strict orders, the statement affirmed, Thai troops have not used heavy firearms or rocket launchers near Preah Vihear temple and never fired at the the ancient temple.

In contrast, it said, Cambodian soldiers opened fired on Thai soldiers who were positioned near the twin stupas in the vicinity of Pha Mor I Daeng with recoilless rifles and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs).

The rocket rounds landed near the twin stupas, injuring two Thai soldiers.

A number of rocket rounds also landed in the Preah Vihear Temple National Park in the vicinity of Laan Chom Dao and the park’s residential buildings.

The Thai side later found two of the RPG rocket rounds fired by the Cambodian side, which had landed but failed to explode and has kept both of them for evidence.

A spokesman for Cambodia’s Council of Ministers, told the French news agency AFP that a staircase and a sculpture of a naga, a creature from Hindu mythology, were damaged by rocket fire at the 11th-century ruins.

He said a complaint was filed with UNESCO a few days after the firefight erupted on October 15 near Preah Vihear, Cambodia’s newly listed World Heritage Site which is at the centre of a long-running territorial dispute between the two neighbouring countries. One Thai paramilitary ranger and Three Cambodian soldiers died in the clashes this month. Earlier on Sunday, Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat said in a television interview that the talks between Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and his Cambodian counterpart Prime Minister Hun Sen on the sidelines of Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in China on Friday were effective in helping to ease the two countries’ border disputes.

He said that Premier Hun Sen has proposed measures aimed at solving the Thai-Cambodian border conflict and reaffirmed that problems must be solved through bilateral talks.

Meanwhile, the tentative agreement reached by senior army officers from both countries in Siem Reap on Friday will be given to the Thai parliament for its consideration on Tuesday. (TNA)

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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