Hundreds of young men have volunteered to join local commune
militias in Oddar Meanchey province since the beginning of a border conflict
in July, officials said Thursday.
Between 500 to 1,000 young men have joined militias in
all five of the province's districts, to bolster the nation's defenses in case
of attack from Thailand as an ongoing border standoff continues, said Oddar Meanchey Governor Pich
Tensions between the two nations increased last week,
following armed clashes at three sites near Preah Vihear temple.
The numbers of recruits had risen surprisingly high in
recent weeks, Pich Sokhen said, but was due to months of tension between Cambodians
and Thais on the border and some attacks of Cambodians.
"The recruitment of the militia right now we keep only for
security in communes," he said. "But if the border becomes more tense, and they
need the forces, we will send them directly to join the army."
Militia members can be recruited under a Ministry of Defense
law and sent forward if trouble arises, Pich Sokhen said. None of the
militiamen are currently armed with guns, he said, but many of them have
knives, axes and clubs.
Officials in the border provinces of Preah Vihear, Banteay
Meanchey, Pailin and Koh Kong reported no increase in militia recruitment
The militia policy of the armed forces sets a maximum of 15
young militiamen, aged 18 to 30, per village, according Ung Narin, a
forestry administration official in the Oddar Meanchey's Banteay Ampil district, who
attended a commune meeting Wednesday where local leaders discussed recruitment.
Meanwhile, military commanders from Thailand and Cambodia met in Siem Reap Thursday
in an effort to diffuse a new round of tensions in a border conflict.
Thursday's meetings took place between low-level
secretariats, who discussed an agenda for a broader meeting between commanders
on Friday, when the prime ministers of both countries are also expected to meet