A fresh outbreak of border fighting between Cambodia's Khmer Rouge and Thai troops may have dimmed the new Thai regime's hopes for improved relations with its Communist neighbour.
A fresh outbreak of border fighting between Cambodia's Khmer Rouge and Thai troops may have dimmed the new Thai regime's hopes for improved relations with its Communist neighbour. The latest clashes have been in the Aranyaprathet region, the flat border area east of Bangkok which was the scene of similar fighting earlier this year, and there have been casualties on both sides.
SYNOPSIS: A Thai military spokesman has accused the Khmer Rouge of attacking 10 Thai border villages in the past few weeks, wounding more than five civilians. Now reinforced Thai border patrols in the Aranyaprathet region have been placed on full-time watch.
One of the worst hit villages in the recent raids was Nong Phu, 30 kilometres south of Aranyaprathet. Houses, crops and a rice mill were burned during a Khmer Rouge attack, and more than 200 villagers were evacuated. With them they took timber and any remaining materials which could provide shelter.
The Thais have used their air force in the latest battles, and many villagers have been armed and trained in defence.
As the local governor, Mr. Salap Nakasatien, inspected damage in the village, gunshots from nearby Khmer Rouge troops were heard during the continuing conflict. The new military government which seized power in Thailand less than three weeks ago had proclaimed that friendship with Cambodia was one of its main aims, but the latest crop of battles may have dimmed such prospects.
The body of a Khmer Rouge soldier was a grim reminder of a border battle on Thursday (3 November) and for the villagers of Nong Phu burnt maize was all that remained from a supply stored in a shed which had been burnt out. They took it with them to their temporary shelter set up near the village.
A Thai military spokesman said Thai aircraft had strafed Khmer Rouge troops following last week's attacks, and that at least five Cambodians had been killed. Thailand has called for talks with the Phnom Penh government to settle the border disputes, but the Cambodians haven't yet responded. Meanwhile border villagers like these must continue leading uncertain lives in uncomfortable temporary shelters.