More than ten weeks after the beginning of a military
standoff over Preah Vihear temple, Thai soldiers are firmly entrenched at three
temples 100 kilometers to the west, though the situation remains quiet.
Cambodian troops patrol the Dangrek Mountains
that hover above the temples, but they have no access to or control of any of
the three temples.
“Nothing has changed yet,” said Maj. Chhim Yen, of Division
42, stationed at the base of the mountains. “We are still in the same place, and the
Thai soldiers have not moved. We are waiting for a settlement from high-ranking
Thai soldiers regularly patrol the areas surrounding the
temples, “and they keep a watch on Cambodian soldiers at a post in front of the
temples,” he said.
Both sides claim ownership of the temples, but Cambodian
soldiers say they had access prior to the July 15 occupation of Preah Vihear
temple by Thai soldiers.
Several hundred Cambodian troops are stationed in tents and
houses along the road to the border temples, living in stark conditions.
However, there are no signs of military tension.
The Cambodian soldiers, armed with rockets and heavy machine
guns, are in the process of constructing three houses at the base of the
mountains with fresh-cut wood from the jungle.
Travel can take as much as one hour for the last 8
kilometers of travel from the main route to the base of the mountain, on a road
run over with rivers and mud.
“We are determined in the face of abuse from the Thais,”
Chhim Yen said.
Soldiers eat morning glory soup with small pieces of fish
that are caught nearby, along with other wild animals, to supplement government
Despite a lengthy deployment, no signs of illness have
appeared, said 1st Lt. Im Pan, an army medic. Some soldiers have caught the flu
and fever, he said, and others have contracted malaria.
No malaria fatalities have been reported. Military officials expect road improvements and the construction of a headquarters building to begin after the rainy season, to enable great military control of the area.