Thailand protests to Cambodia over landmine blast

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BANGKOK, April 4 – Thailand strongly protested to Cambodia over Wednesday’s landmine blast which seriously injured a Thai soldier on patrol in the northeastern province of Si Sa Ket bordering Cambodia, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesperson Thani Thongpakdi said on Friday.

Thailand expressed “strong disappointment” over the incident which happened as bilateral ties have been gradually improving, “strongly protests” as the incident was “obviously a violation of Thai sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Mr Thani said.

Sgt Chatree Kaewprasan of the 23rd Infantry Division lost his right leg stepping on a landmine while patrolling the Thai-Cambodian border in Si Sa Ket’s Kantararak district Wednesday night.

The ministry spokesperson said Thailand would lodge a complaint at the meeting of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in an attempt to prevent any repetition of the incident.

“Thailand hopes Cambodia will understand this and do its best to prevent a repetition of the incident,” Mr Thani stated.

He added concerned agencies were now collecting information on the landmine blast and that the foreign ministry will report the incident to the meeting of the Ottawa Treaty or the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.

Thailand’s Second Army spokesman Col Prawit Hookaew earlier said landmines were recently planted in two spots located in Thai territory.

It was believed that they were planted by illegal loggers who sought to revenge after Thai troops launched a crackdown to prevent them from felling rosewood trees along the border.

Early this week, Cambodia accused Thailand of attacking that its troops on patrol on Sunday, but Thai army spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd dismissed the claim.

He said the Sunday border skirmish occurred as Thai paramilitary rangers and forestry department workers on patrol to prevent contraband logging fired warning shots when they saw poachers felling rosewood trees in Thai territory half a kilometre from the border.