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Military denied shots fired at passenger plane: PM

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday dismissed an Army statement acknowledging an incident in which a Thai passenger jet was reportedly shot at by Cambodian troops, saying the military told her on Thursday that no such thing had occurred.

She said she had heard of the shooting on Thursday but the military, Cambodian authorities and provincial authorities in Sa Kaew province, which borders Cambodia, had not confirmed it.

Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul on Thursday also denied it, citing his own query with relevant agencies including Bangkok Airways - which operates the aircraft in question - Cambodian commanders and the Thai military attache in Phnom Penh.

But the Army announced on Thursday that Cambodian troops had fired shots at a passenger aircraft flying near the country's disputed border with Thailand, believing it to be a spy plane, according to the news agency Agence France-Presse.

Meanwhile, Army commander General Prayuth Chan-ocha said bilateral coordination was underway to find out what really happened. "There could have been shooting, or maybe there wasn't. We need to find that out," he added.

There are many channels of communication, including military attaches and foreign ministers, he said. "If they did fire on the Thai plane, they need to apologise, regardless of intent. Who would want to shoot at a passenger plane, anyway?"

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut yesterday criticised Surapong, accusing him of lying when he made his total denial of the incident. He called on Yingluck to protest to Cambodia over the issue or at least raise the matter with Prime Minister Hun Sen, before making a statement to clarify everything when she returned to Thailand.

"I would like to know why Surapong jumped to a conclusion dismissing the incident, without first verifying the facts, as the foreign minister. He said the plane's landing was scheduled at 9am in Siem Reap, but that it landed in Thailand instead because of poor visibility. The facts are that the plane circled for half an hour and landed in Siem Reap.

"Surapong also lied by saying there was no shooting, but Cambodia's supreme commander said to the press later that there was a shooting, but that it was ordered out of a misunderstanding that the passenger jet was a spy plane."


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