At least two Cambodian soldiers were killed and one injured
in brief fighting with Thai troops around Preah Vihear temple Wednesday, the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, warning that further violence could lead to "large
scale" hostilities between the two countries.
Fighting took place at Viel Intry, or Eagle Field, a patch
of land near Preah Vihear temple, as well as at the Keo Sikha Svara pagoda and
Phnom Trap, the ministry said in a statement.
The Keo Sikha Svara pagoda has been at the heart of a
months-long military standoff that followed the inscription at Cambodia's
request of Preah Vihear temple on a Unesco list of World Heritage sites in July.
On Wednesday afternoon, "Thai troops launched heavy armed
attacks on the Cambodian troops…in an apparent attempt to force the Cambodian
troops out of their present positions inside Cambodian territory," the Foreign Ministry
The Cambodian government protested "repeated and very
serious armed provocations by Thailand,
which could lead to large scale armed hostilities between the two countries"
and reserved the right to defend itself, the ministry said.
"In spite of this armed clash between the soldiers on both
sides, Cambodia still considers
it a clash between soldiers and not a deliberate intent of Thailand,"
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters late Wednesday.
No immediate response was available from the Thai
government. Both sides said the other fired first, the Associated Press
At least six Thais were injured in the fighting, Lt. Col. Phuk Sary, an
officer with military Division 12, said late Wednesday.
A Reuters photographer at Preah Vihear temple reported
rocket fire from the Thai side Wednesday afternoon.
The foreign ministers for each country failed to reach an
agreement on troop withdrawal or border demarcation Monday, following which Prime
Minister Hun Sen announced Thai troops were encroaching on a "life-and-death
battle zone" at Eagle Field and gave the Thai military one day to pull back.
Cambodian officials said Tuesday the Thai soldiers had
withdrawn from Eagle Field, but Thai officials said they would keep soldiers
nearby and were not withdrawing troops.
The Cambodian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday Thailand had "increased
troops at the border locations with heavy weapons, including artillery and
Preah Vihear temple's July 7 inscription as a World
Heritage site stirred nationalism on both sides and sparked massive protests in
Relations between the two countries are generally civil, but
nationalism can boil over. In 2003, Cambodian rioters sacked the Thai Embassy
in Phnom Penh and spent a night looting and
burning Thai businesses, following untrue media reports that a Thai actress had
claimed the famed temples of Angkor Wat should belong to Thailand.
On Wednesday night Cambodian police stood guard over the new Thai Embassy.