Nearly 100 landmine signs and red lines surrounding the area between border posts 32-33 that Thailand Mine Action Centre (TMAC) officials had deployed in Banteay Meanchey province were removed by Cambodian military officers.
Officials said the location where the posts were installed in Kouk Romiet commune’s Samaki village in the province’s Thma Puok district was not yet agreed by both parties.
Seng Thearin, deputy commander and chief of staff of the Military Region 5, told The Post on December 15 that the TMAC deployed the landmine signs and red lines earlier this month in areas that have not yet been approved by the two countries’ technical border affairs committees.
“In the past, they always had the idea of demining [the area] along the border, under the reason that they did not want to endanger the people of the two countries.
“However, for each request from the Thai authority, we always ask for approval from the upper level first. It’s to check if the area that they had requested is agreed to by both countries. In this case, the location has not been agreed to,” he said.
Thearin added that if Cambodia allowed the Thai side to place landmine signs or carry out other activities in the area, it would be equal to Cambodia agreeing that the land belongs to Thailand.
Cambodia, he added, has requested that both sides maintain the location in accordance with the memorandum of understanding signed in 2000 and wait for the technical border affairs committees to reach an agreement.
Thearin said that during the removal, there was no pressure, no violence or conflict with the Thai side.
Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Um Reatrey declined to comment on the case.
The Post could not reach the TMAC for comment.
But the Thai embassy in Cambodia said in an emailed response on December 15 that Thai authorities are investigating to avoid any misunderstanding on the relationship between the two countries.
“For the time being, I think we should wait for accurate information and not draw a hasty conclusion or make any speculation that might cause misunderstanding between Cambodians and Thais,” it said.
According to Thearin, relevant authorities informed the Thai side to remove the signs by December 9, but there was no response or notification from them.
Cambodia Border Affairs Committee chairman Var Kimhong said on December 15 that he had not yet received news on the matter.
“Wait until I have received a report from the local authorities first. Then, we will send our expert officials to investigate, because I do not remember clearly whether border posts 32-33 have been agreed to or not. We will conduct research first,” he said.