Cambodia reinforces troops at Surin border: Army

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NAKHON RATCHASIMA, June 27 – Cambodia has reinforced its troops at the border of Surin province following Thailand’s exit from the UN world heritage site body, but the Thai army is on high alert to protect sovereignty, Thailand’s army region 2 spokesman said on Monday.

Col Prawit Hookaew described the situation along the Thai-Cambodian border after Thailand withdrew from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Convention over the weekend as the agency’s secretariat decided to push ahead with consideration of Cambodia’s management plan for the Preah Vihear temple despite the unresolved border dispute.

The spokesman said that the withdrawal will benefit Thailand and any resolution made by the World Heritage Committee (WHC) will not be binding on the kingdom.

Regarding Cambodian troop movements along the border after Thailand’s decision, Col Prawit said there is some redeployment and reinforcement of the neighbouring country’s troops.

There is some arms training taking place, such as using grenade launcher and artillery on Cambodian side, said Col Prawit, while Thai troops remain on alert at the border and are strengthening their outposts.

Col Prawit added Cambodia has reinforced its troops near the border. Thai soldiers are also on alert without sending more army personnel into the area as the existing number of troops is sufficient to protect Thailand’s national sovereignty.

There has been some troop rotation as some soldiers took turn to cast their ballots in advance voting but they have returned to their cases after exercising their constitutional right, according to the military spokesman.

“Military commanders are still able to talk with their Cambodian counterparts in case any problem arises. However, there is no room for complacency as we fear that history will repeat itself as with the previous clashes which took place despite the military of both sides being on good terms,” Col Prawit said.

The Thai army chief and the commander of Army Region 2 have instructed troops stationed along the border to exercise the utmost restraint, but to retaliate appropriately in case Cambodian troops attack, or start the fighting, the army region 2 spokesman said.

Col Prawit urged local residents not to panic, assuring them that the army are on alert around the clock.