>Tensions on the borders as Thailand and Cambodia reinforced troops
29 ខែមករា 2011 § 1 មតិ
Sources: Koh Santepheap, everyday.com.kh and Kampuchea Thmey
Cambodian military sources said that tensions along the Khmer-Thai border in Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey provinces have heightened after Thailand reinforced troops and conducted military exercises in the areas.
The sources said that Thai troops had conducted military drills by firing live ammunition about 3 kilometres from the contentious Ta Krabey temple in Oddar Meanchey province on the morning of Friday, 28th January.
At the same time, there are reports that about 100 Thai troops have sneaked in to occupy the nearby Ta Moan Thom temple at around 7-8 p.m on Thursday night. They only withdrew from the temple at 2 p.m the next day when confronted by Cambodian troops.
In Preah Vihear province near Preah Vihear temple, there are also reports of tensions after the Thai Army reinforced their troops and conducted military drills in the areas when Cambodia refused a Thai demand to remove the Cambodian flag from the compound of Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda. Cambodian military sources said that on Thursday night, the Thai Army had trucked in about 8 to 9 truckloads of troops to the area and threatened to dismantle the pagoda gate and pulled down the Cambodian flag by force.
In response to the Thai threats, top Cambodian military commanders had been ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen to move their command bases to the Khmer-Thai border areas, including Deputy Commander-in-Chief Chea dara, Deputy Commander-in-Chief Kun Kim, Gen. Srey Doek, Commander of Preah Vihear Intervention Forces, Gen. Kheng Somedh, Commander of Engineering Unit as well both Mr. Hun Sen’s sons, Maj-Gen. Hun Manet, Deputy Commander of Royal Cambodian Army and Hun Manith.
At the same time, Mr. Hun Sen had ordered the Defence Ministry to reinforce border defence and to send thousands of troops and tanks to the areas.
On the morning of Friday 28th January, hundreds of tanks and armoured personnel carriers had been seen trucked out of their bases at Longvek town in Pursat province, heading toward the Khmer-Thai borders. Gen. Chea Dara cannot be reached for comments regarding the troop mobilisations. Gen. Srey Doek, when reached by telephone, refused to comment by directing all questions to 4-star Gen. Kun Kim who then said that he is on a plane and could not comment.
However, Maj-Gen. Reth Sitha, Deputy General Staff of Mr. Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit and Commander of the Tank Unit, said that Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Commander-in-Chief Gen. Hing Bunheang had ordered the transportation of tanks to the border areas in Preah Vihear province. And Lt-Gen. Chao Phirun, Director of Technical Material and Logistics at the Ministry of Defence, said that Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian commander-in-chief (Pol Saroeun) had ordered him to mobilise tanks and armoured personnel carriers to defend the Preah Vihear areas against any Thai invasion. He added that the Cambodian Army was well equipped with armoured personnel carriers, tanks, anti-aircraft missiles and multiple rocket launchers, which he said some of them had already reached the border areas on Friday.