Thai and Cambodian troops clashed for a fourth straight day on Monday over a disputed border area surrounding a 900-year-old mountaintop temple as Cambodia urged the U.N. Security Council to intervene.
Shelling and machinegun fire resounded in the morning in the 4.6-sq-km (two-sq-mile) contested area around the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple on a escarpment covered in jungle and claimed by both Southeast Asian neighbors, witnesses said.
Fighting in the area killed at least five people on Friday and Saturday, the deadliest clashes since Cambodia’s bid in 2008 to list the Hindu ruins as a World Heritage Site sparked sporadic exchanges of fire in the rugged area.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called on the Security Council to convene an urgent meeting, accusing Thailand of “repeated acts of aggression” that have killed Cambodians and caused a wing of the temple to collapse.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement he was “deeply concerned” and urged both sides to cease fire and find a “lasting solution” to the dispute, echoing a similar statement by Washington over the weekend.
The number of fatalities is unclear.
The Cambodian government has said three of its nationals, including two soldiers, have been killed.
Thai media say as many as 64 Cambodians died, quoting army sources. That could not be verified by witnesses contacted by Reuters in Cambodia.
The Thai army says a soldier and a villager were killed on Friday and Saturday and that at least 20 soldiers were wounded.
Thousands have fled villages on the Thai side and hundreds of Cambodians have been evacuated, with each side accusing the other of firing first and of infringing on its territory.