Border Dispute  

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Border Dispute


Thailand and Cambodia are neighboring countries in Southeast Asia with a long common border and a history of wars and disputes between them. The lastest border dispute erupted into violence in October of 2008 and April of 2009, as troops from both nations exchanged fire over ownership of an ancient temple and the surrounding land.

In addition to the border dispute, the Thai government expressed extreme displeasure when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen recently praised former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra and offered a him a job. Hun Sen appointed Thaksin, who convicted on corruption charges in Thailand, as an economic advisor. Thaksin was overthrown by the Thai military in a coup in 2006.

Clashes continued into 2011 as the two neighbors continue their disagreement over whose territory the Preah Vihear Temple belongs to. The religious and historically important shrine, is a Hindu temple that reflects the beliefs of the kings who ruled what was then the Angkorean empire, is located on the top of a 1,722-foot cliff in the Dangrek Mountains, about 150 miles north of the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.


October 3, 2008--Thai and Cambodian troops exchanged fire with each other on the disputed territory near the Preah Vihear Temple. The fighting lasted for nearly only a few minutes, leaving two Thai soldiers and one Cambodian soldier wounded.

October 6, 2008-- Two Thai soldiers were wounded by exploding landmines in the border area after entering a little more than a half mile into Cambodian territory.

October 14, 2008 --Cambodian and Thai forces opened fire on each other in the border area, leaving three Cambodian soldiers dead and two Cambodian and seven Thai soldiers wounded. One wounded Thai soldier later died of his wounds. The Cambodians claimed to have captured 13 Thai soldiers during the battle, but the Thais denied this.

April 2, 2009--Fighting between Thai and Cambodian forces left at least 3 Thai soldiers and 2 Cambodian soldiers dead. Cambodia claimed 4 Thai soldiers were killed, 6 wounded, and 10 captured. 2 Cambodian soldiers were also reported killed in the border clash.

January 31, 2010--Fighting between Thai and Cambodian forces left one Thai soldier dead.

April 16, 2010 Cambodia and Thai Forces opened fire on each other near Cambodia's northwestern border in a clash which lasted for a quarter of an hour,. There were no reports of casualties in this incident.

February 4-9, 2011--Fighting between Thai and Cambodian forces result in deaths among both the Thai and Cambodian military forces. Civilian deaths were also reported. As of mid-day on February 5, firm numbers of dead and wounded are not available, as both sides report widely divergent numbers. It appears that total deaths hover around ten.

Feb. 6--Both sides fired mortar and artillery rounds across the border. Cambodia reported that the Preah Vihear Temple itself sustained damage from Thai artillery.

Feb. 7--Thai forces attempted to recover casualties from the previous day's fighting, and again, combat with Cambodian forces resumed. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called the situation as a "big skirmish or a small war."

Feb. 8--Cambodian troops reinforced their positions around the temple.

Feb. 9-- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen referred to the recent fighting as a war, stating that "Thailand created this war. [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit must be responsible for the war." Hun Sen also said "This is a real war. It is not a clash."


April 7, 2011--Thailand admitted using Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) during the earlier fighting. This class of weaponry is commonly referred to as cluster munitions.

April 22-28, 2011--Renewed clashes along the disputed border erupted on April 22 and continued into the next day. Initial reports from Thailand indicated that casualties totalled eight dead and 32 wounded. The renewed fighting between Thailand and Cambodia involved rocket launchers and artillery. Cambodia claimed that Thai aircraft overflew Cambodian territory during the fighting, as well as claiming Thailand was again using cluster muntions.

As of 4/28/2011, casualties in the April fighting came to:

Thai military: 7 dead, 35 wounded

Thai civilians: 1 dead

Cambodian military: 8 killed, 17 wounded, one MIA

The renewed fighting comes after several weeks of peace, and a resumption of peace talks between Thailand and Cambodia.

Cambodian Soldiers at Preah Vihear Temple Feb. 5, 2011

Cambodian Soldiers at Preah Vihear Temple Feb. 5, 2011

Thai Soldiers

Thai Soldiers heading toward the Cambodian Border, April, 2011


  Resources and Links:

Troops clash in disputed area along Thailand-Cambodia border--CNN, April 23, 2011

Clashes continue on Thai-Cambodia border--Financial Times, April 23, 2011

Thai-Cambodia clashes 'damage Preah Vihear temple'--BBC, Feb. 6, 2011

Thailand, Cambodia Reach Ceasefire Agreement After Cross Border Firing--Voice of America, Feb. 5, 2011

Thai, Cambodia troops clash again near temple, one killed--Business Recorder, Feb. 5, 2011

Thailand, Cambodia Border Fighting Breaks Out Amid Tensions--Voice of America, Feb. 4, 2011

Cambodia rattles Thailand's chain --Asia Times Online, Nov. 10, 2009

Thailand-Cambodia Tensions Rise Over Appointment of Fugitive Thai Official --Voice of America, Nov. 6, 2009

Why Thai-Cambodian temple dispute lingers--Christian Science Monitor, July 22, 2008