In the jungles of Southeast Asia, in the shadows of an iconic temple a new war has erupted. Fueled by decades of strife and stifled hatred, gunfire exploded across the ruins of Preah Vihear between Thailand and Cambodia patrols. Now it has escalated out of control into war around the ruins, mortars raining down on surrounding towns and numerous fatalities.
How Has the Conflict Escalated?
Both armies have mobilized, entrenching themselves on either side of the holy ruins. This conflict, which was initially a small gun battle between two small patrols, have escalated out of control to involve the mass of both armies. Despite United Nations pleas for peace renegade individuals from both sides have launched attacks. One Cambodian village was mortared, six thousand Thai civilians have been evacuated and more than thirty Thai soldiers have been killed in action. More skirmishes, with growing magnitudes, are expected in the coming days.
What Was The Initial Battle?
The Thai have made a statement incriminating the Cambodians, who have remained silent for now, for instigating the conflict. Two patrols from the opposing nationalities met in Preah Vihear and both fired on each other; it is unknown who fired first. The spokesman of the Thai army spokesman announced that one soldier had been killed and an addition four were severely injured. Both sides have mobilized troops in the region, suspecting that their rivals will make a move to secure the temple. This resulted in numerous deaths following the initial skirmish. As of now all units are on stand down orders; despite this the temples remain a flash point of war in Southeast Asia.
Why is Preah Vihear So Important to Both Nations?
These sacred ruins of Preah Vihear are disputed by both countries, each claiming it as their own. This extensive temple complex is the second largest in the region, second only to Angkor Wat in size. Built over a thousand years ago it is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, whom wish the numerous religious population on both sides of the border praise daily. This region has been disputed ever since the first French explorers visited the region, since then there have been steadily growing conflicts culminated in the Thai reluctant relinquishing of the temple in the 1960’s due to international pressure. Since then the conflict has been forgotten, except tempers were stirred up in 2008 when the United Nations Heritage council declaring that Cambodians had ancestral rights to the site, this stirred up controversy. Since then there have been a series of escalating conflicts culminating in this emerging war that will rock the already unstable region.