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Border troops dig in

South China Morning Post
Thursday  October 2  1997

Border troops dig in 
Burmese troops were reported yesterday to have built two watchtowers and to be 
digging bunkers on a disputed island along the ill-defined border between 
Burma and Thailand.
The island, in the Moei River that divides northern Thailand from Burma, has 
been the subject of a long-running dispute between the two neighbours.
Major Chirawat Wongpiyanarong, secretary to the local Thai border committee, 
was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying the construction of the 
fortifications by the Burmese Army violated a bilateral agreement to withdraw 
troops from the disputed island.
The island covers 32 hectares and during negotiations with the Burmese, Thai 
officials suggested the border be demarcated with the use of aerial 
photographs, but the Burmese did not reply.
About 20 Thai families who settled near the disputed area are reported to have 
fled because they feared being shot by the newly arrived Burmese troops.
During last week's parliamentary censure debate against Thai Prime Minister 
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, members of the opposition accused the premier of 
agreeing to cede the land to Burma in return for the opening of a so-called 
Friendship Bridge.