Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Casualties escalate around O'Smach

Casualties escalate around O'Smach

Casualties escalate around O'Smach

FIGHTING at O'Smach has flared up into some of the most costly since the conflict

began despite both sides saying they want a ceasefire.

Medical staff in Samrong - the main regional military base of government troops -

said more than 100 soldiers were killed between Jan 15 and Jan 21 and more than 50

seriously wounded.

A witness to the fighting said that the many of the dead were just left were they

fell. "[One soldier] said he could smell the bodies of the dead soldiers."

He said he was told by some government soldiers that they only bring back the bodies

of high ranking commanders.

Despite the fighting, the front line does not appear to have moved.

Officials on both sides of the fighting said they are waiting for a political solution.

However chances for a cease fire have fluctuated wildly in recent weeks.

Hun Sen has stepped back from his previous demands that the resistance effectively

surrender, offering a bilateral ceasefire if the rebels promise to reveal their positions

and a tally of their arms.

After initially hedging on the offer, Prince Norodom Ranariddh announced, through

mediator Sam Rainsy, that he would accept the deal, but it remained uncertain at

Post press time whether an agreement had been reached.

Rainsy says now a "channel of communication between Rana-riddh's representatives

and Hun Sen's representatives" must be opened so that they can share the necessary

information on their positions and the sizes of their weapons caches.

As for the fighting, which flared on Jan 15 and peaked on Jan 18 and 19 in some of

the most intense exchanges of fire yet, it has reportedly slowed to a virtual standstill,

but it remains unclear exactly why.

"I think it was because of the Thais. I think they fired many rockets at

Hun Sen's troops, injuring many of them," said one man who recently returned

from O'Smach.

Thai forces regularly retaliate when government fire hits Thai soil. "[Hun Sen's

loyalists] were shooting very far beyond O'Smach hill. They didn't seem to care if

they were hitting the Thai side because they think the Khmer Rouge and the resistance

are also on Thai territory," he said.

The role of the Thais is thought by many to be a determining factor in seeking a

lasting resolution to the fighting, because of Thailand's historic support for the

resistance and the Thai leader-ship's willingness to talk to both sides.

Hun Sen last week accepted an invitation to talks with Thai Prime Minister Chuan

Leekpai - who has also announced that he might meet Prince Ranariddh - at an as-yet-to-be

set date.

A Thai government official said it was premature to speculate over Bangkok playing

a mediating role in the Cambodian conflict.

"There are further steps that need to be taken before we can talk about any

mediation," the Thai official said.

But Sam Rainsy expressed hope that Thailand could push a ceasefire forward.

"Thailand can play a positive role in bringing about a ceasefire... We share

a long, common border," he said.

"Hun Sen cannot afford to be Thailand's enemy."

MOST VIEWED

  • Time to avert disastrous Covid situation: officials

    The Covid-19 situation in Cambodia is heading towards further large-scale community transmission as the total number of confirmed cases is nearing 61,000 and the death toll passed 900 on July 10, senior health officials warned. Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine expressed concern that the country was going

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Baby saved as mother is lost to Covid

    Newborn baby Neth David has had a rough start in the world. His mother, Vong Daneth, was seven months pregnant when she contracted a severe case of Covid-19. When it became clear to her doctors that she would not survive, they performed a cesarean section

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • Hun Sen: Get 12-17 age group ready for Covid jabs

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has told parents of children aged 12-17 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal and Preah Sihanouk to get them ready for vaccinations soon. “There is a need to vaccinate children and youths aged 12 to 17. According to the statistics provided