Saturday, April 23, 2011
The final steps leading away from Prasat Ta Muen Thom temple and the path that leads across the disputed border areaJust when you think it's safe to go to the border area temples like Preah Vihear and Prasat Ta Muen, the armed conflict kicks-off again. Yesterday mortar and artillery shells killed three soldiers on both the Cambodian and Thailand sides of the border area around the temples of Ta Muen and Ta Krabei temples in Banteay Ampil district. As usual both countries blamed each other for starting the six-hour conflict, calling it an invasion, and thousands of civilians were evacuated from the immediate area, on both sides. This is the first real breakdown in the border situation since February's fighting at Preah Vihear and the follow-on agreement by both sides to host Indonesian border observers, who have yet to arrive. Such a sad state of affairs, where people have lost their lives for little more than sabre-rattling. As I'm typing I've just heard that fighting has broken out again in the same area early this morning as well. Violence is never far from the surface either at the border area or in Phnom Penh, where the authorities are increasingly meeting protests and demonstrations with brute force and pictures in the press of an old woman with blood pouring from a head wound does the police and government no favours at all. The Boeung Kak issue, where 4,000 families are being evicted from land surrounding the former backpacker-infested lakeside area, is not going away anytime soon, so expect more ugly scenes in the future.