Thai, Cambodian Temple Clashes Persist

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Thai and Cambodian Clashes

Athit Perawongmetha, Getty Images

Violent clashes near the Thai and Cambodian border continued today over a dispute regarding a World Heritage-designated temple. The artillery fighting, situated in Northern Cambodia in the Dângrêk Mountains, has resulted in several deaths and dozens of injuries on both sides of the border.

The 11th century Preah Vihear temple (pictured below) has reportedly been damaged by the crossfire, which began on Friday. The temple has been a source of tension between Thai nationalists and Cambodians since the 1960s, when courts ruled that Preah Vihear is officially located on Cambodian soil – albeit only several hundred feet from the border with Thailand.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has voiced concern over the fighting. She issued a statement, "calling upon both sides to exercise restraint for the sake of the preservation of the Temple of Preah Vihear and open direct channels of communication at the highest levels to defuse the tension."

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has said that the recent violence came to a head after an incident in which Cambodian soldiers fired on Thai military members who had crossed the border to locate the body of a fellow Thai soldier. Hun Sen has requested assistance from the United Nations, claiming that action from the U.N. Security Council will be crucial to diffuse the situation.

Thai officials, on the other hand, have been quick to disregard the Cambodian accusations as "propoganda."

Although a cease-fire was reportedly agreed upon on Monday, artillery has continued on a daily basis for four days. According to the AP, at least seven people have died and as many as 70 have been injured in the border clashes.

So far, there have been no warnings issued for travelers in the area, which is not usually heavily touristed.

Preah Vihear temple

Tang Chhin Sothy, AFP / Getty Images


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