Cambodian and Thai Troops Exchange Fire Along Border

Shooting broke out Friday between Cambodian and Thai soldiers on a disputed stretch of their shared border and lasted for more than two hours before a cease-fire was reached.

Thai media reported that a villager had been killed, but there was no official confirmation of the death.

The clash came at a time of heightened tension between the two countries because of pressure from Thai nationalist groups for Bangkok to reclaim the land.

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said the fighting occurred near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, which belongs to Cambodia. Thailand claims a small patch of land near the temple.

Sporadic artillery fire lasted for more than two hours, but the battle ended after Thailand’s defense minister called to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, according to the private Cambodian Television Network.

Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the fighting erupted when Thai troops ignored warnings to stop crossing into its territory. He said the Cambodians shot into the air and the Thai soldiers returned fire.

Maj. Prom Sarouen, commander of the Cambodian police unit guarding Preah Vihear temple, said both sides used artillery and heavy machine guns in the clash. He said some shells had fallen on the temple grounds, but did not know if they had caused any damage.

Cambodia’s relations with Thailand have been contentious for years. They have had a series of small but sometimes deadly skirmishes over the demarcation of the border near the Preah Vihear temple.