Fire engulfing the market following Thai troops shelling (Photo: Deum Ampil)
Cambodian soldiers examine a burnt market near an ancient Hindu temple where Thai and Cambodian soldiers exchanged rifle and rocket fire in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh April 4, 2009. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Saturday a border clash with Thailand around a 900-year-old Hindu temple would not escalate into a more serious conflict. REUTERS/Chor SokuntheaApril 5, 2009
PREAH VIHEAR (Cambodia) - LIFTING out blackened jewellery and bottles of whiskey, Cambodian troops comb through the wreckage of a village destroyed in a bitter battle with neighbouring Thailand.
Villagers have fled the area near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple since troops from both sides traded gun and rocket fire on Friday, leaving two Thai soldiers dead and another nine wounded.
'Thai soldiers fired many rockets into the market so that it was burned down,' said Cambodian soldier Kim Chantha, 49, as he sat next to the smoldering site at the base of the temple, cradling his AK-47 rifle.
'We rushed to put out the fire when it first started on the thatched roof of a house, but we didn't have time because Thai soldiers kept firing machineguns and a lot of rockets toward the market,' he added.
Many troops sifted through the scattered corrugated steel that remains of the gutted market and homes.
Hundreds of villagers who lived here were evacuated to a school 20 kilometres away from the site.