SLUG: 2-298959 Cambodia Thai Embassy (L)
TITLE=CAMBODIA THAILAND EMBASSY (L-O)
INTRO: Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is condemning an attack by an angry mob that left the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh in flames. As Ron Corben reports, after the attack the violence spread through Phnom Penh.
TEXT: The violence was triggered by alleged comments by a Thai actress that Cambodia should return its cultural icon, the temple complex of Angkor Wat, to Thailand.
Cambodian military police fired shots into the air to disperse the crowd, as flames engulfed much of the building. Thai officials say the 10-member embassy staff is safe.
But the violence spread elsewhere in the Cambodian capitol, as the mob overturned cars and attacked Thai-owned businesses. The police say they are getting the situation under control.
The violence began when a group, composed mostly of students who were protesting the Thai actress's supposed comments, forced their way into the embassy compound. They looted the building, smashed windows, and started the fire.
Mr. Thaksin had earlier threatened to send in Thai commandos to restore order, but later withdrew the decision, although troops had been placed on standby.
A wave of anti-Thai feeling led to Prime Minister Hun Sen calling for Cambodian television to halt the broadcast of Thai dramas, which are a staple for local Cambodian T-V stations.
The Thai actress, a popular soap opera star, told local media the words had been uttered by one of her characters in a T-V drama two-years ago. The alleged remarks were widely reported recently in Cambodian media.
Angkor Wat - the sprawling temple complex - is a national symbol for Cambodia. It is located in Siem Reap, the capitol of the Khmer Empire that ruled a vast range of South East Asia nearly one-thousand-years ago. (SIGNED)
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