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Saturday 2 August  

Cambodian troops 'fire at passenger jet': Thai army

Published on 12 July 2012 - 2:55pm
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Cambodian troops fired shots at a passenger aircraft flying near the country's disputed border with Thailand, believing it to be a spy plane, the Thai army said Thursday.

"The Cambodian military fired because there was a Thai passenger plane -- Bangkok Airways -- which could not land at Siem Reap airport because of bad weather," said deputy army spokesman Colonel Sirichan Ngathong.

"It was misunderstood by Cambodia to be spy plane," he said, adding that no one was hurt in the incident near the northern Cambodian tourist destination of Siem Reap.

Cambodian military at the border -- the site of deadly territorial clashes between the neighbouring countries last year -- confirmed troops had opened fire at an aircraft.

"It was dark so we could not see what type of plane it was. But it was circling many times and then our soldiers fired 18 shots from a machine gun, but it missed the plane because it was flying very high," Commander Seng Phearin told AFP.

"I think a passenger plane would not fly around the border. We suspected it was a spy plane, so we fired to defend our airspace," he said, adding the aircraft had been around 10 kilometres (six miles) inside Cambodia.

He said the incident happened at 19:00 local time (1200GMT) on Wednesday, although the Thai authorities said it occurred Thursday morning.

AFP was unable to immediately contact Bangkok Airways.

Cambodia and Thailand traded heavy arms fire over a disputed border in early 2011 under the previous Thai government, but ties have warmed significantly since Yingluck Shinawatra took power in Thailand.

Yingluck, whose brother Thaksin has remained close to Phnom Penh strongman Hun Sen since being deposed from power in a 2006 coup, is due to meet the Cambodian leader for talks in Siem Reap on Friday.

The meeting will be on the sidelines of the largest ever gathering of American businesses in Asia hosted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and attended by a score of regional dignitaries.

© ANP/AFP

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