Cambodian villagers who live near the Thai-Cambodia border and were evacuated after cross border fighting take shelter at a pagoda at Samrong in Oddar Meanchey province. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday urged Thailand and Cambodia to exercise restraint and take immediate steps to defuse tensions after their deadliest border clashes in several years. (AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy) The eighth day of armed clashes between Cambodian and Thai troops over disputed border areas had forced other 11,200 Cambodian people to flee homes, bringing the total number of evacuees to 45,200 by Friday evening, said a senior government official. "Too many Cambodian evacuees have fled home in the latest rounds of fighting with Thailand," Nhim Vanda, the first vice- president of the Cambodian National Committee for Disaster Management, told Xinhua by telephone on Friday. "We have never expected such great number of evacuees, so now our major concerns for them are clean water and sanitary facilities." During the fighting, the villagers living as far as 18 kilometers surrounding the fighting areas at the 11th century Ta Moan temple and Ta Krabei temple in Oddar Meanchey province have forced to flee for safe shelters. The last day of armed clashes happened at Thursday night and lasted until 6:00 a.m. on Friday morning. Cambodian and Thai troops had exchanged gunfire for eight straight days over disputed border areas at Ta Moan and Ta Krabei temples, which lie 150 kilometers west of Preah Vihear Temple. The fighting had killed eight Cambodian soldiers, seven Thai soldiers and one Thai civilian, and caused several dozens injured. The border between Thailand and Cambodia has never been completely demarcated. Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. But Thailand claims the ownership of 4.6 square kilometers (1.8 square miles) of scrub next to the temple. Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand had a border conflict, triggering a military build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.
29th April, 2011
Xinhua Web Editor: Gong