A Change of Guard

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Friday 31 December 2010

Thailand builds up troops along Cambodian-Thai border after 7 Thais were arrested by Cambodian authority

The 7 Thai nationals, including Thai MP, Panich Vikitsreth seen here, were sent to Preysor Prison after 7 hours of questioning by Phnom Penh Court.

By Khmerization
Source: RFA

Thailand has deployed thousands of troops, including armoured personnel carriers, along its border with Cambodia in Sakeo province where 7 Thai nationals, including an MP from the ruling Democrat Party, were arrested on Wednesday by Cambodian authority for trespassing into Cambodian territory.

A Cambodian spokesman for the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Town Hall, Mr. Ouk Keo Ratanak, told RFA on Thursday morning that the Thai troop build up was for the purpose of preventing the Thai Yellow Shirts ultra-nationalists from crossing into Cambodia en masse planned for today after their leaders were arrested by Cambodian authority. "Because we have arrested the 7 Thai nationals, Thailand had mobilised their troops. The aim of the troop mobilisation along the border, including tanks, was because they are concerned that the Yellow Shirts will come en masse which will affect the cordial relations between the two countries. So, the troop mobilisation is for the purpose of preventing the Yellow Shirts (from entering Cambodia)", he said.

At the same time, a Cambodian border military commander said that on Thursday 30th that the Thai side had closed all border crossings in Sakeo province which bordered with Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province.

Mr. Chhouk Ang, Cambodian commander of Border Protection Brigade 911, said among the border crossings the Thai side closed are Sala Khmer border crossing, Tumnoup Dach, O'Bei Choan, Nong Chan, Rithisen and Thnoll Bombek border crossings, stretching from O'Chrov district to Dambon Pram (Zone Five) in Svay Chek district. "They closed from Sala Khmer stretching to Dambon Pram because we have arrested the leaders of the Thai Yellow Shirt Movement, but on the other hand we can say that it is because their top leaders had come down to visit the areas. But that is their pretext. They closed (the border crossings) temporarily to allow the border situations to calm down and because their top leaders came down to visit the area", he said.

However, many Cambodian political observers think that the Thai troop build up is intended to intimidate Cambodia into releasing the 7 Thai nationals who were charged and sent to Preysor Prison on Thursday afternoon.

Mr. Chhouk Ang added that his Border Protection Brigade 911 and the Land Border Protection Unit No. 503 have also been deployed in all important spots along the border in Banteay Meanchey province.

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