After several days of rising tensions and troops movements, “sporadic shelling” broke out along the Thai-Cambodian border. According to a Cambodian government spokesman and local witness, Thai soldiers precipitated the shelling by raiding a pagoda claimed by both sides. The Thai army had a different story, claiming that the Cambodian army fired artillery rounds first. The Thai army chief said the exchange of fire “seems to have been a misunderstanding,” and that he was working with his Cambodian counterpart stabilize the situation. The dispute stems from the two countries’ claims to the Preah Vihear temple, which is recognized as a Cambodian World Heritage site.
Recent weeks have seen increasing talk of a military coup. Former deputy permanent secretary for defense Admiral Bannawit Kengrian was quoted in The Bangkok Post on Tuesday, saying “the situation in this country is no different to that in Egypt. The people can no longer tolerate the political system and their protests are always fruitless. So they turn to the military.” Saksith Saiyasombut is not so sure: indeed, Thai politics are a mess, but few support the Thai military. Nevertheless, Saiyasombut concedes that given the military’s increased politicization since 2006’s military coup, another one cannot be ruled out.