Tensions flared as a Thai army ranger was injured by a landmine, and about others were held, after they crossed the Cambodian border yesterday in a dispute over Preah Vihear, a 900-year-old Hindu temple.
Officials from both sides :said the trespass was caused by a misunderstanding after the soldiers crossed over to pick up three Thai protesters arrested for jumping an immigration checkpoint to reach the temple.
The protesters — one man, one woman and a Buddhist monk — had placed wooden planks over barbed wire on the border to get across, vowing to reclaim the temple, which the World Court handed over to Cambodia in a 1962 ruling. Cambodia released the three Thais who had been detained on Tuesday but 17 Thai border troops caught in the area will be held over night.
The governor of the Thai province across from the temple, Seni Chittakasem, led a delegation into Cambodia to secure the release of the three protesters, insisting that the soldiers had remained nearby, but on Thai territory.
But Cambodians claimed that the soldiers had entered a Buddhist pagoda on the slopes of a mountain leading to the ruins. It was later said that the Thai troops were being held until further talks could resolve the stand-off.
Cambodia has had riot police and military on standby at the temple since Thai protests began last month. Some in Cambodia believe the protesters had been paid by a political factions. The temple controversy has already lead to the resignation of Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama after a Thai Constitution Court ruled that he had violated the constitution by backing the Cambodian government to declare Preah Vihear temple a World Heritage Site without first getting parliamentary approval.
This however has been the first flare up between the two neighboring ASEAN members.
Source: Today, 16 July, Thai-Cambodian border: Tensions at a high , http://www.todayonline.com/articles/265284.asp
Source: Bangkok Post, 15 July, Tempest in a temple, http://www.bangkokpost.com/topstories/topstories.php?id=128884