Cambodia asks Thais for damages

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia has asked Thailand for more than $2 million in compensation for damages allegedly inflicted by heavy weapons the Thai army used during a clash at a disputed ancient temple along the border, an official said Tuesday.

A diplomatic note Monday to the Thai Foreign Ministry said the gunfire on April 3 destroyed 264 stands at a market in front of the Preah Vihear temple, said Koy Kuong, a Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman.

The note said the destruction caused great hardship for 319 families who lost their entire means of livelihood.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat was not immediately available for comment.

In early April, Cambodian and Thai troops deployed at the border near the 11th century temple exchanged fire with artillery, mortars and automatic weapons.

Tensions flared in July last year when UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency, approved Cambodia's bid to have Preah Vihear named a World Heritage Site, leading some Thais to believe their claims to the surrounding land would be undermined.

Since then, there have been several gun battles in the area and a number of soldiers from both sides have been killed or injured. Both sides have refused to back away from their positions.

The World Court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but sovereignty over the surrounding land has never been clearly resolved.