Friday, November 14, 2008

Hun Sen Promise Stronger Defense Following Thai Incursion


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen promised Friday to improve national defenses, as
his troops prepare to begin joint patrols with Thai soldiers over the disputed border. With these measures in place, a repeat of last week’s fatal clashes should be avoided.

The Prime Minister has made the pledge at a cabinet meeting that included a moment of silence for the three Cambodian soldiers who died this week after gunfights with Thai
troops on disputed land.

“Today our cabinet, with the pride we received from protecting our territory, will discuss draft laws to put the national defense sector on top,” the Premier said, without elaborating
on specific steps.

The Premier made his remarks because Thai and Cambodian soldiers faced off along the border, awaiting joint patrols which senior military officials agreed to in a Thursday meeting. The agreement was aimed at preventing a repeat of Wednesday’s clashes on disputed land near the Preah Vihear temple, a UN heritage site on Cambodian territory and the focus of months of tensions.

Two Cambodian soldiers were killed and seven Thais injured by gun and rocket fire, and a third Cambodian soldier died Thursday of smoke inhalation from repeatedly firing his rocket-launcher.

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