11:44pm

Thu April 21, 2011
World

Troops From Thailand, Cambodia In Border Clash

A long-running border conflict between Thailand and Cambodia flared anew Friday, with troops from the two Southeast Asian countries exchanging fire along their disputed frontier, security officials from both nations said.

The Thai army said one of its soldiers had been killed and five injured in the clash. It was the first skirmish reported since the two sides exchanged artillery and gunfire for four straight days in February at the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, killing at least eight people.

Cambodian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Chhum Socheat confirmed the latest clash and said it took place about 155 miles (250 kilometers) west of Preah Vihear.

Chhum said the fighting took place at another temple in Ta Krabey that is also claimed by both nations. He said both sides had used rocket launchers, machine guns and rifles.

Thai Army Spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd told The Associated Press the latest skirmishes erupted after dawn and continued for at least half an hour. Another spokesperson, Lt. Col. Siriya Khuangsirikul, said one Thai soldier had been killed and artillery had been used.

Siriya said both sides "are in the middle of negotiating for a cease-fire."
Serm Chainarong, the governor of Thailand's Surin province where the fighting happened, said authorities there were preparing to evacuate about 5,000 people.

It was unclear what sparked the latest fighting.

The conflict is rooted in a decades-old border dispute over ancient temples and the land surrounding them, which has fueled nationalist passions on both sides.
Tensions between the neighbors have been exacerbated in recent months in part by pressure from powerful Thai nationalist groups, which have staged protests in Bangkok urging the government to reclaim the land.

Clashes have erupted several times since 2008, when Preah Vihear was given U.N. World Heritage status. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.