Security tightened at Thai-Cambodia border as first oral statement on Preah Vihear dispute begins

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SI SA KET, April 15 – Security has been tightened on the Thai-Cambodian border as Cambodia began giving first oral statement on the Phra Viharn (Preah Vihear) temple dispute at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) today.

Although, the overall situation at the border remains calm, Thai border patrol police and soldiers from the Suranaree Task force stepped up security measures and set up a checkpoint near the entrance of Khao Phra Wihan National Park following reports of possible protests by some groups of activists.

The measures came amid fears that there might be possible clashes between protesters and local residents who oppose to the move.

A group calling itself “Kamlung Pandin”, led by Kittisak Ponpai said they will rally on Wednesday in Kantaralak district.

Khao Phra Viharn National Park is temporarily closed during this period.

In Kantaralak district, the situation is normal. Local residents are living their lives normally enjoying the traditional Thai new year celebrations.

Isaya Pongsapan, a resident of Saothongchai sub-district, said the villagers are prepared for evacuation in case of emergency and that they have closely monitored the situation and news as the issue does impact them.

In Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province, also adjacent to Cambodia, 70 per cent of shops in the Rong Klua Market in Aranyaprathet district were closed today as most of them, run by Cambodian traders, enjoyed their holidays across the border in their traditional Khmer New Year celebrations.

Thousands of Thai and international tourists on the Thai side were disappointed with the shop closures.

A Cambodian trader who operates his shop in the market said a large number of Cambodian traders close their businesses during this period due to the new year holiday, while some also are staying at home monitoring the oral statements in the Phra Viharn temple dispute.