Cambodia claims Thailand violated its airspace

October 15th, 2008 - 9:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Phnom Penh, Oct 15 (DPA) Thailand violated Cambodian airspace hours before a border skirmish erupted Wednesday, Cambodian officials said.Cambodian and Thai soldiers Wednesday exchanged gunfire in a disputed zone near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on the Thai-Cambodian border called Eagle Field, or Eagle Terrace, 300 km north of the Cambodian capital, which is an important strategic point for access to Preah Vihear.

“The Thai injuries were worse, but there were casualties on both sides,” Hang Soth, the director-general of Cambodia’s Preah Vihear authority, which oversees the site, said over telephone.

“The Thai fighter jet came 8:50 a.m. and again at 10.07 a.m. to disturb our airspace. Cambodian soldiers wanted to fight then, but they were placated for a while,” Soth said from a meeting in Phnom Penh.

“I do not know why fighting happened at 2.15 until 3.30 pm because I was not there,” the head of Cambodia’s Preah Vihear authority, he said.

He said there were casualties on both sides, but that the Thai side had borne the brunt of duel M-79, B-40 and AK-47 exchanges.

Cambodian authorities said all civilians had fled the area and it was now regarded by both sides as a conflict zone.

The Wednesday shoot-out at Eagle Terrage is important to the ongoing dispute over the Preah Vihear temple because whoever controls that area controls access to the temple, which is sacred to both sides.

A similar clash at the same site on Oct 3 left two Thai soldiers and one Cambodian wounded.

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