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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai military aids KR

Thai military aids KR

Thai military aids KR

BATTAMBANG - Marauding Khmer Rouge guerrillas responsible for hit and run

attacks on six northwest villages last week launched their assault through

Thailand, a senior Cambodian army commander and U.N. officials

claimed.

At least five people were killed, scores injured and 545 houses

destroyed during the New Years Day attack on the villages in Ampil district in

Cambodia's far northwest corner.

About 300 Khmer Rouge guerrillas took

part in the hit and run assault according to local Cambodian army officers and

villagers.

"I think it's very plausible these attackers came through

Thailand -and they've gone back there.

"They (Khmer Rouge) are unbeatable

if they can keep coming through Thailand," the senior U.N. official said on Jan.

8.

The official speaks fluent Khmer and has more than 13 years experience

managing the border relief operation both in Thailand and Cambodia.

"It's

a very cowardly thing to do-nip across the Thai border," he said.

The

latest damaging allegations of Thai military complicity in helping the rebels

follows revelations last month of a secret arms cache of 1,500 tones of weapons

and munitions being stored by the Thai army in southeast Chantaburi province for

use by the Khmer Rouge.

The Thai army denied helping the Khmer Rouge and

claimed the weapons which have since been moved away from the border for

safekeeping were their own.

The attack on one of the six villagers, Thmar

Don, was launched from the Thai side by Khmer guerrillas based at Trapaing Krous

about 20 kilometers southwest, a second United Nations official

said.

Lt-Gen Prom Van Sareth, chief advisor to Military Region Four, told

Reuters in Ampil that he was in no doubt the KR had received help from the Thai

military.

"According to local people who were seized by the Khmer Rouge

during the attack-they say the Khmer Rouge were loaded on Thai trucks and got

off the trucks at Chong Khlang (a Thai village) and walked across the border

into Cambodia.

"If you don't believe me-come with me and see their path,"

he said gesturing to the border where the thick undergrowth lay crushed,

allegedly by the KR attackers.

General Sareth's own house in Phum Chuk

village was left a smoking ruin after the attacks.

"The KR came in via

three paths and after attacking withdrew the same way," said General Sareth

pointing towards Thailand. "The three paths lead into Thai territory."

An

official from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said at

least six villages had been "burnt to the ground" causing between 2,500 and

3,000 people to become homeless.

Local Cambodian military commanders said

that the attack on the old royalist stronghold in Ampil was "revenge" for an

earlier attack by government soldiers on the strategic Khmer Rouge logistics

base at Phum Chhat in northwest Thmar Pouk district.

A KR attack on the

northwest border crossing at O'Smach last October was also claimed by the

Cambodian army to have been launched from Thai territory.

After the

attack, two Thai army officers were seen by a Reuters correspondent to be

negotiating with their royalist counterparts for permission to bring two logging

trucks across the border to remove felled timber.

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