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Riot Police Deployed To Contested Border

Cambodia sent 50 riot police, include 10 canine units, to the Thai border on Thursday, in anticipation of Thai protests near Preah Vihear temple this weekend.

Officials said they had deployed police to block demonstrations for the People’s Alliance for Democracy, a Thai political organization angered by the inclusion of the temple as a Unesco protected site under Cambodia.

The temple is at the center of a longstanding military dispute, and officials fear provocative demonstrations could derail talks aimed at defusing the tension.

The People’s Alliance for Democracy, sometimes called the “yellow shirts,” has said it plans a rally against the Cambodian government on Saturday, claiming Cambodia has sent merchants and settlers to occupy Thai territory near the temple.

Chum Socheath, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, told VOA Khmer the government “must show our spirit and willingness to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“We must absolutely not allow Thai protesters entering our land,” he said.

Riot police and dog handlers would be equipped with shields and batons to prevent protesters from entering Cambodia.

“If the yellow-shirt demonstrators still insist on illegally entering our land, we will use our border defense soldiers to carry out self-defense,” he said.

Thailand’s army chief, Gen. Anupong Paojinda, has said he is concerned that Thai citizens could be “captured” by Cambodian soldiers, which would have far-reaching repercussions, the Bangkok Post reported.

Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said riot police would stay near Preah Vihear temple to protect “our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Security personnel will do everything allowed within the limits of the law, he said.

“Thai protesters do not enter Cambodia, it is good,” he said.

Thai officials are deploying up to 200 police to deal with protests, the Bangkok Post reported.

“Thai military commanders on the border promised Cambodian military commanders during talks this week that Thai protesters will not be allowed to enter Cambodian land,” said Chhum Socheath, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.