Hundreds of Cambodian civilians fled the border area after Wednesday's 40-minute exchange of rocket and gunfire, as both sides rushed armor and troops to the conflict zone.
The 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple has stirred nationalist passions in both countries for generations, but escalation did not appear inevitable as officials avoided belligerent rhetoric.
"Our policy to resolve this conflict is through negotiations," Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat told reporters in
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has said nothing since the clash, in which two Cambodians and five Thais were wounded. His foreign minister said it was "not an invasion by
But people on the streets of
"We need to defend our land. We must not lose to the Thais," said security guard Bun Roeun, 36, flicking through newspaper reports of the clashes. "If the Thais continue their attempt to cross our border, I am ready to join the army to fight back."
The confrontation comes amid great political instability and an economic slowdown in
"It's hard to see how
"But if you look at the very tense and riven state of Thai politics, it's easy to see how a Cambodian war could be of interest as a distraction," he said.
The International Court of Justice awarded the temple to
However, it failed to determine the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the stunning but remote Hindu ruins, which have been off-limits to tourists for months.
The dispute over this small parcel of land became highly politicized in
Some 2,000 soldiers faced off only yards apart in trenches dug into a hillside that 10 years ago was controlled by remnants of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot's guerrilla army.
In Anlong Veng, the site of Pol Pot's grave and about 100 kms (60 miles) west of the temple, the main road was clogged by hundreds of Cambodians on motorbikes and small tractors laden with chairs, pots and other belongings.
At the temple, a Reuters photographer saw three armored vehicles and five trucks arrive loaded with Cambodian troops.
There has been no word on the exchange of 10 Thai prisoners at the temple, whose existence
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said the group, who were photographed by a Reuters journalist under Cambodian guard, would be treated properly and returned to
In 2003, Thai commandos flew into
Security was beefed up outside the Thai embassy in
Several big Thai companies have operations in
A top adviser to