Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Thai army enter Cambodia, Thai protesters arrested at disputed temple

About 40 Thai troops on Tuesday entered Cambodia in the latest flare-up of a territorial dispute over a 900-year-old Hindu temple, Cambodian officials at the border have told AFP.
The military deployment comes as three Thai protesters were detained by Cambodian soldiers early on Tuesday for illegally entering the temple site, which is closed to the public, a Thai provincial governor said.

The 11th-century Preah Vihear temple is at the centre of a long-running territorial dispute as the main compound lies inside Cambodia but the most accessible entrance to the site is at the foot of a mountain in Thailand."We are negotiating to secure their release through local officials," Seni Chitkasem, governor of the border province Si Sa Ket, told local television.

"They are being detained for interrogation and haven't yet made any demands," he said.
Cambodia sealed off the temple last month after about 100 Thai protesters attempted to march on the ruins on June 23. One man, one woman and a Buddhist monk slipped through Cambodia's military fence Tuesday, vowing to reclaim the temple which the World Court handed over to Cambodia in a 1962 ruling.

The protesters are part of a group calling themselves Dharmayatra, which has been camped at the foot of Preah Vihear for the past few weeks. The temple has provoked a political firestorm in Thailand, after Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's government agreed last month to support Cambodia's bid to win World Heritage status for the ruins.

A Thai court invalidated the agreement, and foreign minister Noppadon Pattama was forced to resign in the ensuing scandal. The parliamentary opposition is mulling impeachment motions against the entire cabinet.

Despite the controversy, last week the UN's cultural agency UNESCO awarded the temple World Heritage status in recognition of its importance as an example of ancient Khmer architecture.


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