Despite talks in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, between Thai Foreign Minister Upadit Pachariyangkun, and Cambodian leaders aimed at normalising relations between the two countries, clashes along the border continue.
Despite talks in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, between Thai Foreign Minister Upadit Pachariyangkun, and Cambodian leaders aimed at normalising relations between the two countries, clashes along the border continue. In the past few weeks, a combined force of Cambodian soldiers and Thai communist guerrilla seized more than 300 villagers as hostages during a border raid. The hostages' fate is still unknown, but it is believed they were taken across the border into Cambodia. Apart from the abductions in north-eastern Thailand, ??? towns along the southern border have also come under frequent Cambodian attack in the past week.
SYNOPSIS: The border highway just over 300 kilometres (190 miles) east of the Thai capital of Bangkok, is a frequent target for Cambodian troops. In the latest incident on Thursday (23 February), a Cambodian landmine blew up an armoured patrol car, and a border pick-up truck, killing three of their occupants. A reinforcement of Thai regular troops later cleared the road after an intensive search using mine detectors.
During the search, troops found an RPG rocket, which was destroyed in a nearby field by a bomb disposal unit.
Incidents like this have made life very hard as well as dangerous for villagers in the area. They cannot use the road; bus services have been badly hit; and the movement of agriculture produce to the market town of Arrayphrathet, eight kilometres to the north, has been severely curtailed.
A few hundred metres from the highway, Thai troops found the badly-mangled bodies of two villagers killed by the Cambodians. Observers see the latest attacks as a major potential setback in Thailand's policy of improving relations with Cambodia. Foreign Minister Upadit announced, on his return from Phnom Penh, that the two countries has agreed to start trade, to exchange ambassadors and normalise relations. Thai military authorities believe there has been poor communication between the government in Phnom Penh and Cambodian forces at the frontier.
Thai Prime Minister, Kriangsak Chamanand, who is at present on a tour of the non-communist Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been telling ASEAN leaders that, despite the continued clashes, he expected relations with Cambodia to improve steadily.