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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pailin by April, says army chief

Pailin by April, says army chief

G OVERNMENT troops are building up positions near the Khmer Rouge nominal capital

of Pailin, poised to launch a major attack on it in the next month or two,

according to senior military staff.

"We are launching a long-term

offensive against Pailin...and we expect to capture it by mid-April," Battambang

military commander General Hem Han said.

Thousands of RCAF soldiers

supported by used T55 tanks from Eastern Europe recently purchased by Cambodia,

were being prepared for the assault.

Lieutenant General Nhek Bun Chhay,

deputy chief of general staff, said three key RCAF positions had been

established. A regional command headquarters had been set up at Nimitr, about

60km from Pailin, where more than 3,000 troops and seven tanks were stationed.

The other RCAF camps were at Treng, 35km east of Pailin along Route 10, and at

the recently captured KR base of Kla Nguab, 4km from the Thai border.

Gen

Hem Han said about 2,000 troops were deployed in Treng, where an RCAF

engineering corp were clearing mines. A further 1,000 soldiers and four tanks

were at Kla Nguab, a KR observation post captured on Mar 17.

From Kla

Nguab, the RCAF was able to monitor the larger KR base of Phnom Malai, where KR

chief Ieng Sary is said to have a house.

Gen Ham said Phnom Malai would

be attacked before any assault was launched on Pailin. "This is our new

tactics.... we will clear all Khmer Rouge bases around Pailin first and then we

move toward Pailin later," he said. RCAF troops seized the town of Pailin on

March 19 last year, only to see it fall back into guerrilla hands a month later

on April 19.

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