Cambodian rioters burn Thai embassy

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The Independent Online

Thailand said yesterday it was withdrawing its ambassador from Cambodia and would evacuate its citizens from Phnom Penh after a nationalist mob set fire to the Thai embassy in the city and attacked Thai businesses.

Thailand said yesterday it was withdrawing its ambassador from Cambodia and would evacuate its citizens from Phnom Penh after a nationalist mob set fire to the Thai embassy in the city and attacked Thai businesses.

Flames engulfed much of the embassy building as the mob ran amok in the compound, making bonfires of furniture and motorcycles, witnesses said.

The Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, said in a television broadcast he would send military aircraft to evacuate an estimated 400 Thais from the Cambodian capital. Police, who used armoured vehicles and live ammunition to contain the unrest, said there were no serious injuries during the clashes.

The riots were sparked by remarks reportedly made by a Thai actress that the Angkor Wat temple, Cambodia's top cultural icon, belonged to Thailand. The actress, Suwanna "Kob" Konying, has denied making the comments.

Cambodians have long distrusted their larger and richer South-east Asian neighbour, although relations between the two countries have been cordial for most of the last 50 years.

As the riots spread through Phnom Penh yesterday, angry crowds set fire to overturned cars and attacked Thai-owned and other foreign businesses, including the Royal Phnom Penh Hotel. Thai Airways International has suspended flights to Cambodia.

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