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More Troops on Thai Border in Wake of Arrests: Official

With Cambodian flags flutter on the top of a gate in the background, Thai soldiers guard Aranyaprathet checkpoint in Thailand.

A border official says troop levels for both Cambodia and Thailand have increased along the frontier in the wake of the high-profile arrest of a Thai delegation last week.

The seven suspects, including a Thai member of parliament, were detained last week for allegedly crossing the border illegally and have been formally charged in Phnom Penh.

The arrests sparked demonstrations in Bangkok and along the border in Thailand by “yellow shirt” protesters of the People's Alliance for Democracy.

Sok Sovan, deputy commander of Region 503, in charge of the border in Banteay Meanchey province, told VOA Khmer that Cambodian border police and Region 5 troops have moved to the border there to prevent Thai “yellow shirt” demonstrations from crossing.

“We've deployed the troops to block demonstrators, not in preparation of battle with Thailand,” he said.

Lo Mithona, deputy director of the Cambodian-Thai border relations office in Poipet municipality, on the border, said more than 1,000 black uniformed soldiers and others from Thailand have been deployed and laying concertina wire along the border in recent days.

“Today, at least 200 'yellow-shirt' demonstrators held protests” on the Thai side of the border, he told VOA Khmer. Thai authorities had prevented the demonstrators from entering Cambodia, he said.

Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Cambodia's official stance was to “follow after Thailand.”

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reported Wednesday that Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya wants “progress” in the case. Kasit reportedly said on Thai television that he hoped Cambodia would speed up court proceedings and not treat the illegal entry accusations as a serious crime.