At least 1,500 Cambodian troops leave disputed border with Thailand

September 1st, 2011 - 1:36 am ICT by BNO News  

PHNOM PENH (BNO NEWS) — Cambodia withdrew approximately 1,500 troops from the disputed border area with Thailand on Wednesday as the two neighboring countries’ military tension have eased since July, one official said.

Maj. Gen. Seak Socheat, deputy commander of the front-battle region 3, told the Xinhua news agency by telephone that the troops were pulled back from the Thmar Doun area between the 13th century Ta Moan temple and Ta Krabei temple, 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of the Preah Vihear Temple.

“The pullback was made at the order of Prime Minister Hun Sen,” Socheat told Xinhua. “It’s the sixth time Cambodian troops have pulled back from the disputed border with Thailand.”

Dozens of people from both countries, including troops and civilians, were killed during armed clashes at the two temples which took place from April 22 until May 3. The violence forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee for safer areas.

Both Cambodia and Thailand claim the 4.6 square kilometer (1.7 square miles) area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on their shared border, which has never been formally established. However, the military tension has eased since the former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party won a landslide victory in July’s general election.

Tensions first escalated between the two countries in July 2008 following the build-up of military forces near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple. The United Nations Security Council urged both sides to establish a permanent ceasefire after at least 10 people were killed.

Clashes resumed earlier this year as both nations claim the lands surrounding the ancient Hindu Temple, which has been damaged due to the conflict. The Preah Vihear temple dates back to the 11th century and is located on the Cambodian side of the border.

In 2008, the temple was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding universal value. It is considered an outstanding example of Khmer architecture and consists of a complex of sanctuaries linked by pavements and staircases on an 800-meter (2624 feet)-long axis.

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