Villagers return as Thailand Cambodia clashes ease

by Alister POOLE on May 2, 2011

Civilians who fled clashes between neighbouring Thailand and Cambodia started returning home today.

Thousands of villagers had last week been forced to stay in temporary camps as troops exchanged fire in jungle terrain that both the South East Asian nations claim. Although the truce agreed on the 28th of April didn’t end the fighting, it did reduce its intensity. Overall, 16 soldiers and one civilian have been killed.

The governor of Oddar Meanchey province in Cambodia, Mr Pech Sokhen, told how people have now returned to their homes due to the situation now being calm and also of his hope that fighting between Thailand and his own country will carry on decreasing over time. Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva spoke to the media to confirm that people were returning to rural villages but told how the military will be monitoring the border closely and will remain very careful.

Although the villagers have returned, the fighting hasn’t stopped completely. One Cambodian commander explained at a press conference how Thai shelling continued well into Sunday evening, while a commander from the Thai military told that the two sides exchanged fire. Reports are saying that any combat is now confined to smaller areas.

Ta Moan and its counterpart Ta Krabey are the two temples being fought over. They sit in a mountainous jungle area that both countries say belongs to them. Last week, a third temple, namely Preah Vihear, was brought into the equation and has become a flashpoint for the on-going dispute.

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