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Friday, 31 January, 2003, 00:41 GMT
Quiet after the Cambodian storm
Cambodian official in body armour after rioting
Security has been out in force

Little evidence remains of the angry demonstrations that swept through the Cambodian capital on Wednesday evening.

There is a strong military presence on the streets of Phnom Penh, particularly in the area near the airport that was the focus of the riots.

But otherwise the city seems to have returned to normal.

As evening fell, the roads were full of the commuter traffic of motorbikes and taxis, although some major roads in the city had been closed by police.

The Thai embassy which had been the focus of the rioters' anger is now a burnt-out shell.

Looting in Cambodia after riots
There has been looting
Almost 700 people were airlifted out of Phnom Penh earlier in the day by seven Thai military C-130 aircraft.

The government has been quick to condemn the protests and said it will unconditionally compensate Thai businesses that were affected.

The estimated cost of the damage could be more than $20m.

The Cambodian prime minister, Hun Sen, has said that relations between the two countries had dropped to a level of concern.

More than 20 people have been arrested in connection with the riots.

Gone

The absence of almost all Thai nationals from Cambodia is easily noticeable.

In Siem Reap, the town next to the ancient temple of Angkor Wat, many of the restaurants and hotels have been closed down and boarded up after their Thai owners fled across the border, fearing the violence would spread.

Those that remained were guarded by a visible presence of Cambodian policemen and security guards.

Actress Suvanant Kongyi
The alleged comments of an actress may have sparked the riots
Cambodians in the area have been enraged by the alleged comments of a Thai actress that Angkor Wat should be returned to Thailand.

Despite the heavy reliance of people in the area for investment from Thailand, many feel that the comments reflected a lack of respect common amongst Thais for a potent symbol of Cambodian national pride.

The media in Thailand has accused Hun Sen of capitalising on the nationalist feelings generated by the furore to further his political base in advance of elections later this year.

However, the general feeling among most Cambodians is that this raises many of the historical difficulties that have passed between the two countries.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Thailand has evacuated more than 500 of its nationals from Cambodia and downgraded diplomatic relations  over the riotingCambodia riots
Can Thai-Cambodian ties recover?
See also:

30 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
30 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
22 Nov 01 | Crossing Continents
27 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
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