Thursday September 17, 2009
Cambodia accused soldiers from neighbouring Thailand of burning a boy alive after shooting at villagers in a disputed border region, a claim Bangkok said was baseless.
The accusation comes amid simmering tensions between the historic foes over jurisdiction of the land around the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, which straddles their common border. Seven soldiers have been killed in the last year in skirmishes near the site.
Cambodian Deputy Foreign Minister Ouch Borith said he had seen evidence proving the incident took place and urged Thailand to investigate what he said was a "brutal and inhumane" act.
Borith said he had seen photographs of the charred body of a boy. He did not provide any evidence Thai soldiers were responsible.
"This is true. We have pictures of the late boy whose hands were tied, along with his remains and ashes," he told reporters.
Cambodian authorities said a 16-year-old boy was arrested by troops on September 11 for cutting down trees on Thai territory. Soldiers shot and seriously wounded another boy as he fled, the reports said.
Cambodia's Foreign Ministry sent a statement to its Thai counterpart complaining that the boy's death was a "serious breach of internationally accepted humanitarian principals".
The Thai ministry responded on Thursday, saying it had been informed by the army that the teenagers had trespassed on Thai territory and were given a warning by border troops.
"There was no arrest. They just warned them and pushed back into Cambodia without detention or any clashes," spokeswoman Wimon Kidchob told reporters. "This matter, I am certain, will not harm our good relations."
Thailand's extra-parliamentary People's Alliance for Democracy movement used the simmering temple dispute to attack the previous government. It plans to protest near the ruins this weekend to demand Preah Vihear is "returned" to Thailand.
Both sides have repeatedly pledged to exercise military restraint and work to resolve the issue, which critics say has been used by governments on both sides to stoke nationalist fervour.