PRASAT, Thailand — Thai and Cambodian troops broke a brief cease-fire and clashed for an eighth day yesterday, shattering hopes of a quick end to a long-running border conflict that has forced nearly 100,000 villagers to flee. The death toll rose to 16.
Fighting erupted in the morning and again briefly last night, both countries’ troops said as displaced residents on each side waited to see if the worst skirmishes in years between the Southeast Asian neighbors might finally end.
“I wish both sides could talk, so that there is no more fighting,’’ said Boonteung Somsed, a 58-year-old Thai construction worker who fled to the village of Prasat, about 20 miles from the border.
Thailand and Cambodia have clashed six times since 2008 over the border, where several crumbling Hindu temples built nearly 1,000 years ago during the Khmer Empire sit atop cliffs and in jungles mined in wars past. The land has been disputed for more than half a century, but analysts say domestic politics on both sides is driving the conflict as much as any disagreement between the countries.
Field commanders agreed to the brief truce Thursday in a meeting at the disputed border. But Suos Sothea, a Cambodian colonel, said the Thai army again fired artillery shells into Cambodia early, and small arms fire crackled anew around the Ta Krabey temple.
Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a Thai army spokesman, said there had been light clashes late Thursday and early yesterday. He blamed Cambodia for breaking the deal.
Thai authorities said the fighting has uprooted 51,000 people from their homes. Cambodia’s Red Cross said more than 45,000 people there have fled over the past week.