At least two people were killed in clashes between Thai and Cambodian forces on their disputed border Feb. 4. A Cambodian soldier and a Thai villager are reported killed, with several more wounded, in a two-hour artillery exchange. The fatalities are the first since a Thai soldier was killed a year ago in a similar clash over the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, a UN World Heritage site that is claimed by both countries.
The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple belongs to Cambodia, but did not determine the status of a small plot of land next to the ruins. Ties between the two countries deteriorated after the temple was granted UN world heritage status in 2008, with Thai nationalists arguing that the action threatened their country’s sovereignty.
The new clashes come three days after a Cambodian court handed down prison terms of six and eight years to two Thai nationals found guilty of trespassing and spying in the border region. It also coincided with a Cambodia visit by Kasit Piromya, the Thai foreign minister, aimed at reducing tensions.
That same day, three security officers were killed in two attacks by presumed Muslim separatists in Thailand’s south. The attacks follow an intensification of violence in the region over the past two weeks, including a deadly raid on an army camp, a roadside bombing, several drive-by attacks, and the execution-style shooting of a Buddhist family. (AlJazeera, Feb. 4)