Embassy set alight in soap star protest

Demonstrators looted and set fire to the Thai Embassy in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh today when police allowed a protest against a soap star to get out of control.

Demonstrators looted and set fire to the Thai Embassy in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh today when police allowed a protest against a soap star to get out of control.

They were protesting against a Thai TV star whom they believed had accused Cambodia of stealing the famous Angkor Wat temple from Thailand. She has denied making any such comment.

After a day long protest by hundreds of people, some in the mob breached the embassy’s gate and forced their way into its main building. They could seen them hurling curtains, chairs and documents out from its windows.

Later, flames were seen coming from the building. An car in the embassy grounds was also set alight. The few policemen that were around failed to control the mob.

It was unclear if any staff were in the embassy. An official said earlier it was closed for the day.

The target of the protests, actress Suwanan Kongying, has denied making any derogatory remarks about Angkor Wat or Cambodia.

The alleged remarks were reported last week by Cambodian newspapers and radio stations. The controversy intensified when Prime Minister Hun Sen banned a TV serial starring Suwanan.

Angkor Wat is a sprawling temple in northern Cambodia and is the country’s national symbol. It was the capital of the Khmer empire, which ruled parts of Southeast Asia for about 600 years from the 9th century.

Cambodians have a historical distrust of their bigger neighbours Thailand and Vietnam, who they fear would like to annex their territory.

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