Thai, Cambodian troops in deadly clash near temple | world | Hindustan Times
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Thai, Cambodian troops in deadly clash near temple

world Updated: Feb 04, 2011 17:29 IST
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Thai and Cambodian soldiers exchanged fire on a disputed stretch of their border on Friday, authorities said, the latest flare-up in an ancient feud over territory surrounding a 900-year-old Hindu temple.

Cambodian police said two Cambodian soldiers had been killed and two wounded, the first fatalities in the militarised border area since a Thai soldier was shot dead on Jan 31 last year. Thai media said two or three Thai soldiers had been wounded.

Shelling began at about 3pm (0800 GMT) and continued into early evening, military officials and witnesses said. Artillery shells landed at Huay Thip village on the Thai side but there were no reports Thai fatalities, a witness said.

Five Thai soldiers had been captured, said army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

"There is sporadic shelling but details are very sketchy at this point," said another Thai army official.

The clash comes three days after a Cambodian court handed down jail terms of six and eight years to two Thai nationalists found guilty of trespassing and spying in the border region, a verdict that has angered some in Thailand.

Both sides accused each other of firing first in the 4.6-sq-km (two-sq-mile) disputed area around Preah Vihear temple, a jungle-clad escarpment claimed by both Southeast Asian countries and the scene of sporadic, deadly clashes in recent years.

The latest fighting could give a boost to a small but prolonged protest by Thailand's "yellow shirt" activists who are demanding Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva take a tougher line against Cambodia.

The temple, known as Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Khao Phra Viharn in Thailand, sits on land that forms a natural border and has been a source of tension for generations.

The International Court of Justice awarded it to Cambodia in 1962 but the ruling did not determine the ownership of the scrub next to the ruins, leaving considerable scope for disagreement.

The clash occured during a vist by foreign minister Kasit Piromya to Cambodia for meetings with Cambodian government officials aimed at reducing tensions.