Friday, December 16, 2011

Fired-upon chopper never entered Cambodia: Marines chief

A Royal Thai Navy helicopter that came under fire from Cambodian troops on Thursday had not strayed into Cambodian airspace, Royal Thai Marine Corps commander-in-chief Vice Admiral Pongsak Phuriroj, who is in charge of border defence in Chantaburi and Trat, said yesterday.

The Thai Navy Bell 212 helicopter was struck by machine gun fire from the Cambodian side, causing damage to the helicopter's rotor. At the time, it was delivering food to Thai and Cambodian border soldiers based just 50 metres away.

"Soldiers in the field regularly provide supplies for [Thai] soldiers - and also Cambodia's troops, as Thai and Cambodian soldiers enjoy very good relations. They cook together every day. It is surprising that such an incident happened," Pongsak said, adding that Cambodian officers were scheduled to visit local Thai commanders today to discuss the incident.

He said the Royal Thai Navy had sent a letter protesting the act to Cambodia's Third Region Commander. Another letter was submitted through the Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said he had received an initial report describing the incident as a misunderstanding.

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