Dozens wounded in Thai temple protest: army

BANGKOK, Sept 19, 2009 (AFP) - Dozens of people were wounded as Thai "Yellow Shirt" protesters clashed with local police and villagers on Saturday near a disputed temple on the Cambodian border, the army said.

Demonstrators broke through barricades and were gathered at the foot of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, the scene of several deadly battles between Thai and Cambodian troops over the past year, an army spokesman said.

The view of the Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province (AFP photo)

The army said around 5,000 protesters from the yellow-clad People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) had turned up in cars, buses and vans near the temple and around 3,000 villagers had set up their own barricades.

"The PAD are negotiating with the commander of the local task force now at the foot of Preah Vihear," Colonel Prawit Hookaew, a spokesman for the army's northeastern region, told AFP.

Several dozen villagers trying to keep the protesters away from the temple were injured in two rounds of clashes with about 200 PAD guards, the military said, without giving an exact figure.

One villager was shot in the neck and four people were hospitalised, Kantharalak district hospital said.

The protesters have demanded that the government push Cambodian forces out of the disputed area around the temple, where tensions have been high since the ruins were granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008.

The temple clashes came as thousands of rival "Red Shirts" rallied in Bangkok on the third anniversary of a coup that toppled then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The PAD helped topple Thaksin in 2006 and then blockaded Bangkok's airports in December to bring down the previous, pro-Thaksin government, but have recently turned their fire on Abhisit's administration.

Source: AFP

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