UN urges restraint at Cambodian-Thai border

October 16th, 2008 - 12:30 am ICT by IANS  

New York, Oct 15 (DPA) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Cambodia and Thailand Wednesday to exercise utmost restraint and settle their dispute through dialogue.Ban said in a brief statement that the dispute over a temple at the joint border should be resolved peacefully following reports of gunfire and casualties.

Cambodian and Thai soldiers Wednesday morning 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, also said Thailand violated his country’s airspace before the gun exchange between the sides.

“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.

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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