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Police Briefly Hold Thai Temple Protesters

Cambodian border police briefly detained three Thai demonstrators at Preah Vihear temple Tuesday, a move that was followed by a crossing of Thai border police into Cambodian territory, a top Cambodian spokesman and a border authority official said Tuesday.

Thai officials denied their patrols had crossed into Cambodian territory.

Cambodian police detained three protesters, who were members of the opposition Thai Democrat Party, after they entered Preah Vihear temple Tuesday morning, said Hang Soth, chairman of the Preah Vihear National Authority.

The three were released after three hours, Hang Soth said.

More than 40 Thai border police entered Cambodian territory around 11:30 am, occupying a pagoda about 200 meters from Preah Vihear temple, Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said Tuesday.

Hang Soth confirmed Thai authorities occupied the pagoda. He could not confirm whether the Thai patrol remained there.

Thai Maj. Gen. Kanok Netakawesana, the regional army commander, told the Associated Press Tuesday the soldiers remained on Thai soil, close to a disputed area.

Thai Embassy spokesman Chaturont Chaiyakam said late Tuesday reports of the border-crossing were a "rumor."

Cambodian soldiers on the border have been ordered not to shoot at Thai troops, Hang Soth said.

Tuesday's incident came at a time of increased tension between the two countries over the temple, which was last week added to a Unesco World Heritage list under Cambodia's request.