I N a large upsurge in fighting Khmer Rouge guerrillas have launched major offensives in several provinces and captured a few districts in Siem Reap, according to the military officer in charge of information with the Ministry of Defense.
Colonel Yang Vuthy, in a press conference on Sept 28, added that in the past two weeks KR guerrillas had attacked seven districts in Siem Reap and temporarily seized the main government army base in the province.
He added that the KR have launched other major offensives in Kompong Chhnang, Battam-bang, Preah Vihear, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Thom, Kompong Speu and Kampot in the last fortnight.
And according to a secret government report obtained by the Post the KR have captured several communes and villages in Kompong Chhnang and newly appointed their own town chiefs to run the areas.
Col Vuthy said the heavy fighting over the fortnight, which has resulted in total casualties for both sides of more than 120 deaths and another 90 wounded, was a KR response to visits by US delegations to the country.
In describing the fighting Col Vuthy said: "KR guerrillas launched a heavy offensive on Srey Noy district on Sept 14, [77 km north of Siem Reap town], and took control of the main government positions for Siem Reap military operations for 8 days.
"We lost control of the positions on the day of the offensive, but our Royal government troops mobilized from Preah Vihear and Siem Reap provinces to stop the KR offensive and recapture the positions on Sept 22. Now we are retaking control of the whole of Srey Noy district."
The Srey Noy district military base is the center from which the government conducts most of its army operations in the Siem Reap province, and according to Vuthy the government has so far suffered only two casualties in the Srey Noy fighting.
In separate major offensives Col Vuthy announced that on Sept 14 a band of 250 KR guerrillas attacked Samrong district, 98 km northwest of Siem Reap city. "The fighting lasted for an hour and we lost control of the district town on the day of the offensive."
Vuthy added that on Sept 25 about 100-150 KR guerrillas launched a heavy offensive and captured Chikreng district town, 68 km northeast of the Siem Reap capital.
The Colonel would not be drawn when asked at the press conference whether the government had recaptured Samrong or Chikreng districts.
In offensives in Kompong Chhnang Lieutenant General Chum Hak reported: "On Sept 18 a band of 50 Khmer Rouge guerrillas from division 785, led by General Ven and traveling in 17 boats and a ship armed with a DK 82 mm mortar launcher, attacked and captured two communes, Da and Chror Nouk, Kamgpong Leng district, 29 km north of the Kompong Chhnang capital."
"They [ the KR] have appointed their chiefs for Da and Chror Nouk communes and seven other villages in the district," Hak said in a secret report obtained by the Post and addressed to the Chief of the General Staff of the Ministry of Defense.
Lt-Gen Hak is the Chief of the Second Bureau of the RCAF based in Kampong Chhnang and made his report to the Ministry of Defense on Sept 24.
In other separate major offensives Col Vuthy announced at the press conference that on Sept 23 a band of 100 KR guerrillas launched a heavy attack on government positions in Phnom Thippadei area, Moung Russey district, 53 km southeast of Battambang city.
"We lost control of Phnom Thippadei area for five hours, but on the same day we recaptured the area from the Khmer Rouge," Vuthy said.
He added that several government provincial units armed with multiple rocket launchers cooperated with district fighters to regain control of the contested area.
The Colonel later said at the press conference that on the same day the KR launched the Srey Noy offensive another band of 20 to 25 guerrillas attacked Srey Snam district, 68 km northwest of the Siem Reap capital.
Vuthy said the guerrillas took control of the Srey Snam district capital for 30 minutes killing one government soldier and wounding another, while three KR were killed and one other was wounded in the raid.
The Colonel said the KR have attacked four other districts in Siem Reap province in the last two weeks. He said 50 KR guerrillas launched an attack 15 km west of Stoung district on Sept 16, and two KR were killed and a number wounded in the battle. Stoung District is 70 km southeast of Siem Reap town.
Vuthy said on Sept 17 the KR attacked just 10 km northeast of Siem Reap town itself wounding three government soldiers and capturing an RPD machine gun and a DK 82 mm mortar in the raid.
He added that on Sept 20 the KR attacked 7 km east of Angkor Chum district and the government soldiers killed one guerrilla and wounded two others in the raid.
In the fighting from Sept 14-28 the KR suffered 96 casualties, 43 wounded, four captured soldiers and 29 defections, according to Vuthy.
He added that 166 KR weapons and 965 rounds of assorted ammunition had been seized by the Royal government forces during the fortnight's fighting.
He said the RCAF had suffered 26 casualties, 47 wounded and seven soldiers had been captured by the KR. He added that the KR had burned down 14 houses in captured villages and killed oxen.