Thai, Cambodian clashes resume at disputed border

Thai, Cambodian clashes resume at disputed border

The crumbling stone temple, several hundred feet (meters) from Thailand's eastern border with Cambodia, has fueled nationalism on both sides of the disputed frontier for decades and conflict over it has sparked sporadic, brief battles in recent years. However, sustained fighting has been rare.

Cambodian officials say Thai artillery collapsed part of a wall yesterday at the Preah Vihear temple, a UN World Heritage site, but Thai officials have dismissed that account as propaganda, and the extent of damage is unknown.

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said skirmishes began again today after halting around midnight. There was no immediate comment from Thai authorities, but an Associated Press reporter in the area said the sound of gunfire and artillery could be heard.

Late yesterday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply concerned" by the fighting and urged both sides "to exercise maximum restraint," his spokesperson said in a statement.

In 1962, the World Court determined that the temple belongs to Cambodia. Thai nationalists dispute the ruling and have seized on it as a domestic political issue.At least five people have died in the border clashes that began Friday, one civilian and one soldier from Thailand and one civilian and two soldiers from Cambodia.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned that the fighting poses a threat to regional stability. He said the latest clash was sparked after Thai soldiers crossed the border in search of a slain comrade, and Cambodians opened fire to repel them. He spoke today during a university graduation ceremony in the capital, Phnom Penh.