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Cambodia orders unidentified drones shot down

Prime Minister Hun Sen says drones spotted near Vietnam border

Cambodia orders unidentified drones shot down

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered armed forces to shoot down unidentified drones flying over Ratanakiri province near the Vietnamese border. (Photo: unsplash.com)

Published: June 27, 2023 09:42 AM GMT

Updated: June 27, 2023 10:01 AM GMT

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered his armed forces to shoot down unidentified drones, which he said were flying over Ratanakiri province in this country’s northeast, near the Vietnamese border.

“We received information about drones flying into Cambodia’s Ratanakiri province. We contacted the Vietnamese side, yet they confirmed that those drones are not theirs,” Hun Sen said on June 27 in a dispatch by the semi-official Fresh News.

Defense Minister Tea Banh, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Vong Pisen, and the Commander of the Prime Minister’s Personal Bodyguard Unit Hing Bun Heang, were ordered to take down the unidentified drones.

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“We have to use our modern weapons to shoot down any [unidentified] drones that fly into Cambodian territory,” Hun Sen said.

The report said Hun Sen had also ordered Hing Bun Heang to deploy 500 troops and 200 modern weapons to participate in the operation, adding: “The premier announced zero tolerance for anyone who violates the kingdom’s sovereignty.”

It also said Hun Sen had highlighted “recent terrorist attacks in Vietnamese territory” about two weeks ago — adding that Cambodia had closely cooperated with authorities in Vietnam to prevent terrorist groups from fleeing across the border.

On June 19, Hun Sen said he had expelled all Montagnards who sought refuge in Cambodia after violent clashes with Vietnamese security, which some sources say had escalated following attacks on two police stations that left at least nine people dead.

Montagnard support groups in the United States have rejected allegations that Dega People were responsible for those attacks while Vietnamese authorities have claimed the attacks were the work of terrorists.

Vietnamese authorities have said 84 people have been detained in relation to the attacks, of them 75 are facing charges of “conducting terrorist acts against the People’s government.”

Montagnards fought alongside the US and allied troops during the Vietnam War. Many converted to Christianity and complained of repressive policies like religious persecution and expropriation of land by local officials.

Often, the Montagnards have sought sanctuary during times of trouble in neighboring Cambodia, a contentious issue with national elections scheduled for July 23.

In a separate statement, Hun Sen said he would destroy all extremist political groups in order to protect Cambodia, telling 20,000 factory workers on Tuesday morning: “I will never tolerate this extremist group. I will destroy your organization like I did to the Khmer Rouge.”

Harsh political rhetoric has ramped up recently as the long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party finalizes its preparation for an election that Hun Sen is expected to win with an absolute mandate following the disqualification of the main opposition Candlelight Party (CLP).

On June 24, the autocratic leader accused an opposition group of plotting to kidnap him and warned he is prepared to sacrifice up to 200 people in order to maintain peace. Hen Sen did not name the group.

However, he has previously accused the outlawed Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) — a forerunner of the CLP — of plotting to overthrow his government, resulting in the arrests and jailing of more than 100 people.


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