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Military Attaches to Inspect Sites of Border Clashes

The stone remains of Preah Vihear, built nearly 1,000 years ago, are supposed to be a protected U.N. World Heritage site. Instead they are at the heart of a dangerous tug-of-war between Cambodia and Thailand.

A delegation of foreign military attaches is scheduled to visit Preah Vihear temple Thursday, military officials said.

Cambodia says the 11th-Century temple was damaged by Thai artillery in border clashes in February and has asked Unesco to assess the damage. Thai officials maintain Cambodia has troops close to the temple, putting it at risk to future damage.

The military delegation will include 19 representatives of foreign countries including the US, China and Japan and will last for two days, said Chhum Socheath, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.

The defense attaches will meet with Cambodian frontline commanders before touring as many areas along the border as possible, Chhum Socheath said. This will include strike sites where Cambodian officials say cluster munitions were used by Thai soldiers.

“They will see the reality, and from what they see they will have their own views,” he said. “I think a visit to Preah Vihear temple at this time will be very productive.”

Intense clashes between the two side Feb. 4 through Feb. 7 left at least 10 people dead and sent villagers fleeing for safety.

Both sides have since agreed to a ceasefire and a monitoring mission from Indonesia, the current head of Asean, but Thailand has said it does not condone a Unesco inspection of the temple while military tensions remain high.

Cambodian military officials on the border said they have been put on heightened alert for the military delegation’s visit.