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Friday, November 20, 2009

Cambodia pulls out of military sports meet

By The Nation

A sporting event between Thai and Cambodian military personnel scheduled over the weekend has been postponed indefinitely due to the growing tensions between the two countries.

The postponement was initiated by Cambodian authorities, without stating any reasons, said Prawat Ratthairom, a deputy provincial governor of Si Sa Ket, the venue of the event.

He said the provincial authorities were just informed of the postponement by the Thai military.

A series of sports competitions between Thailand's Second Army Area and Cambodia's Fourth Military Precinct, both of which are responsible for duties along each country's borders, were scheduled to be held today and tomorrow at Phumi Srol School in Cambodia's Kanthararak district.

Meanwhile, a Cambodian immigrant worker was axed to death by a Thai worker in a drunken brawl in Chon Buri's Sri Racha district over the detention of a Thai national by Cambodian authorities for alleged spying.

The victim, known only as Tiang, was allegedly attacked by Silchai Namnont, local police said, citing Kraisorn Namnont, the suspect's brother. The three men, all helpers in a local rubber plantation, were drinking late on Thursday and started quarrelling over the detention of the Thai in Cambodia and other diplomatic strains in ties between the two countries.

Nong Kham police said a hunt was on for Silchai but his brother, Kraisorn, was in custody. Police were still questioning him, as they were suspicious that he also took part in the murder.

In Sa Kaew, a goodwill cerฌemony was held by Thai and Cambodian military personnel in Aranyaprathet district yesterday. Highranking commanders of both sides met in the middle of the ThaiCambodia Friendship Bridge and exchanged souvenirs and handshakes in a photo opportunity.

LtGeneral Kanit Saphithak, commander of Thailand's First Army Area, and General Sok Phiab, a deputy chief of Cambodia's joint supreme command, were the highestranking officers from both sides participating in the ceremony. They met without prior appointment while making inspection visits at their local Army units, after local forces on both sides managed to get them to meet each other.

Aranyaprathet border checkpoint and Khlong Luek border town are still open to visits by Cambodians while Thai nationals still visit casinos across the border and Cambodian vendors still enter Thailand and do their businesses at Rong Klue market despite a drop in the number of Thai shoppers.

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