Royal Government tanks crushed resistance at a renegade soldiers' squatter camp
last week during a fierce gun battle just two km from Pochentong International
Of an estimated 200 squatters, two were killed, six were wounded
and 45 arrested, according to a spokesman for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.
The rest are said to have fled.
Some residents, who said they were
innocent bystanders, told how their houses were also burnt down by mistake
during the crackdown.
The firefight lasted for 90 minutes after 250 RCAF
soldiers, three light tanks and an APC moved on the squatters' village at Beng
Krapeu in Stung Meanchey district west of the capital.
Ten AK-47s and
two B-40 rocket launchers were recovered from the scene, which lies between the
airport and the national radio transmitter.
A senior government official
said he believed the rebel soldiers were part of an organized gang which had
stolen UN and NGO vehicles and equipment.
He said a fax machine and more
than a dozen UN vehicle plates were recovered from the scene.
General Prak Sith said the army was called in after the squatters fired shots at
policemen who had asked them to move. One policeman was injured in the
He added: "During an earlier visit seven policemen were abducted but
later released, their guns were stolen."
Brig Gen Sith said the army was
fired on first and had hit back at the squatters with AK-47s, B-40 rocket
propelled grenades and machine gun fire from the tanks.
The day after the
one-sided battle the charred ruins of the wooden houses, erected by the
squatters in farmers' fields were still smoking and government troops and three
tanks remained on guard.
Dazed and angry families, who said they lived in
houses built along a dirt track leading to the squatters' village, claimed they
had been hapless victims of the security forces.
Man Nee said she, her
husband Hiang Sat and five-month-old baby Heang Polin had been living there for
a year after Sat had been demobilized from the army. He was earning the family a
living by repairing bicycles and motorbikes.
Man Nee said the family had
left their home along with their neighbors after the police warned them they
were about to move on the squatters.
She said: "When we got back to our
houses in the evening we found they had been burnt down by the soldiers with
"They must have done it by mistake thinking we were squatters
too. But we were the ones who called in the police in the first place to remove
"We have no money and nowhere to stay. We will have to
sleep by the road tonight."
Brig Gen Sith denied that surrounding houses
were deliberately set on fire with gasoline and added: "The houses that burned
were hit by gunfire or B-40 rockets.
He said he suspected the squatters
may have been Khmer Rouge infiltrators but he had no evidence to back the
A small number of the rebel soldiers moved in two months ago, he
said, and began selling 15 metre by six metre plots of land for the ridiculously
low price of 13,000 riel to other demobilized troops.
Brig Gen Sith said
the squatters terrorized the genuine owners of the land, 100 farmers who
acquired small plots to grow rice under a SOC government program.
squatters built around 50 wooden houses and some shanty huts in the