Life returning to normal near Cambodian border

Most residents of Ban Phum Sarol village in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district are returning to their homes days after they were evacuated for fear of clashes resulting from the ICJ ruling on Preah Viharn.

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Students clean up rubbish at Ban Phum Sarol School in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket as the school resumes classes yesterday. Photos by Pattanapong Hirand

Residents return to homes near border

Wassana Nanuam 
Sermpong Thongsamrit

SI SA KET : Most residents of Ban Phum Sarol village in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district have begun returning to their homes days after they were evacuated.

Some had been staying at a shelter in the compound of Kantharalak district office, while others stayed with relatives in nearby provinces.

The shelter is located 40km from Phum Sarol village, adjacent to Cambodia's Preah Vihear province.

Villagers in Si Sa Ket's Ban Phum Srol get back to their normal peaceful life following the improvement of Thai-Cambodia's Preah Vihear conflict situation.

Villagers left their homes ahead of the International Court of Justice' s (ICJ) ruling on Monday on the vicinity around the Preah Vihear temple. They were scared of clashes erupting between Thai and Cambodian troops – like those of two years ago – if the ICJ ruled in favour of either Cambodia or Thailand.

Si Sa Ket governor Pratheep Kiratileka travelled to meet residents at the shelter on Tuesday and explained the ICJ's ruling to them.

Mr Pratheep told the residents to return home and assured them the ICJ ruling did not have a negative impact on Thailand.

He said the provincial office will work closely with the army to help residents along the Thai-Cambodian border understand the details of the ICJ's ruling.

The ICJ ruled that Thailand and Cambodia must resolve the border conflict in the 4.6 sq km disputed area through dialogue. It also ruled that the entire promontory of Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia and that Thailand must withdraw its military forces stationed there.

However, one resident, Samrit Kaew-sanga, 50, who has already returned home, said she was not sure whether the ICJ's latest judgement would prevent future clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops.

Ms Samrit said she is ready to evacuate her home at any time in case violence erupts along the border.

Only one school in Phum Sarol village in tambon Sao Thongchai in Kantharalak district reopened yesterday, with just 50 of its 370 students in attendance.

Bunkers recently cleaned and reinforced in anticipation of possible cross border shelling have become a playground for local children.

Other schools in tambon Sao Thongchai and Phupamok in Kantharalak district have remained closed due to safety concerns, even though they were scheduled to reopen yesterday .

In Bangkok, Deputy Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapa said the Thai-Cambodian border situation has remained peaceful following the ICJ's ruling, thanks to close cooperation between soldiers from both countries.

Related search: Preah Viharn, Si Sa Ket, Ban Phum Sarol village, ICJ ruling

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