KAMPOT (AP) - After centuries of antagonism with neighboring Vietnam, Cambodians
expressed little sympathy for the recent massacre of two poor ethnic Vietnamese families
in Kampot province.
On the evening of July 21, a ragged band burst into Tuk Meas village in this seaside
province bordering Vietnam. According to officers of the U.N. Transitional Authority
in Cambodia (UNTAC), the men shouted, "Death to the Vietnamese enemy,"
then bashed the head of a seven-day-old baby, split open the head of a seven-year-old
girl, disemboweled a man, and executed five other people.
A military unit of the Hun Sen government stationed less than a kilometer away apparently
did nothing to stop the roughly hour long attack, U.N. officers said.
A U.N. official who demanded anonymity said it appeared the attackers were rogue
government soldiers, and not Khmer Rouge guerrillas, whom the villagers blame because
of their brutal record and strident anti-Vietnamese propaganda.
Cambodians interviewed in this provincial capital expressed little concern about
the killings. The more they spoke, the more their deep-seated feelings rose to the
surface. They admired the work of the ethnic Vietnamese construction laborers in
town, but still wanted them out.
"If I were the king, I would do everything possible to expel them," said
Mao Savann, 26, a medical student. "They work well but their thoughts are no
good. They steal everything, motorcycles, clothes. By day they work, by night they
Leng Thol, 25, a Cambodian construction worker, said "We are like ducks and
chickens. . .can't get along, speak different languages. That makes me angry."
Nguyen Ngoc Ha, 32, a Vietnamese construction worker, complained about the lack of
security and said that, "One day, they're going to kill me too."
A U.N. official who requested anonymity said the attack was clearly racially motivated.
The assailants, wielding assault rifles and grenades, knew exactly which houses to
zero in on at Tuk Meas. After the massacre they fled to the nearby hills with stolen
food, rice and a bicycle.
A three-year-old who narrowly survived, Do Van Thuan, was shot in each leg and wounded
in the cheek. During a visit to Kampot Hospital Saturday, the child was seen laying
listless, his toes, fingers and neck still stained with caked blood.
Witnesses said his 12-year-old sister was holding him when the firing started. When
she was shot and fell to the ground, the boy hid in a drainage ditch.
The parents, who work in Kampot town, returned to Tuk Meas to bury their four children.
"There is a lot of blood in the house," said a brother who was taking care
of Do Van Thuan in the hospital. "I don't know if my father can stay there."
Vietnam first invaded Cambodia in the 16th century, although historians disagree
as to whether that intervention was at the invitation of a Cambodian king-to provide
protection against other enemies-or as an attempt by Vietnam to seize more territory.
French colonial rule over Cambodia prevented what probably would have been its total
absorption by Vietnam and Thailand.
After the French left, Communist Vietnamese troops used Cambodian territory during
the 1960-1975 war against U.S.-backed South Vietnam.
During the Lon Nol regime 1970-75 many Vietnamese were killed in pogroms.
When the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975 they tried to kill or expel ethnic Vietnamese
living in Cambodia. Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge fought a bloody border war that ended
in a Vietnamese invasion in late 1978, when the current Cambodian government was
The Khmer Rouge fought the Vietnamese-backed government from the jungles until the
signing of peace accords last October.
But fighting continues, and the Khmer Rouge say they will not cooperate with the
accord until all Vietnamese forces have left the country and their "puppet"
government is dismantled.
The Khmer Rouge radio habitually calls Vietnamese the derogatory term "yuon."Other
Cambodian political factions likewise have been using such propaganda to get popular
support and are trying to bar ethnic Vietnamese from voting in next year's U.N.-organized
Last week, UNTAC Chief Yasushi Akashi strongly urged the factions to stop the racist