World and Nation

Thai and Cambodian troops clash violently at the border

THNAL BEK, Cambodia — Refugees clustered around cooking fires at a schoolhouse here as Cambodia and Thailand prepared for the possibility of further violence after a fourth day of shelling Monday at their disputed border.

The Cambodian army cleared out military vehicles and construction equipment and evacuated villagers from the foot of a steep cliff that is the site of an 11th-century Hindu temple claimed by both sides.

The dispute involves a century-old French colonial map, a ruling by the International Court of Justice and a decision in 2008 by UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, to list the temple, Preah Vihear, as a Cambodian World Heritage site.

It has become tangled within the complex knot of Thai politics as well as simmering enmity between the two neighbors that has erupted into violence near the temple several times since the World Heritage listing.

The current fighting is the most sustained engagement between the two nations. As many as five civilians and soldiers have been killed on both sides, according to Thai and Cambodian news reports.

Cambodia urged the United Nations to send peacekeepers to the border area one day after asking the Security Council to convene an urgent meeting to “stop Thailand’s aggression.”

“We will go to the Security Council whether you like it or not,” Cambodia’s prime minister, Hun Sen, said in a speech Monday, addressing his counterparts in Thailand.