K AMPOT-Khmer Rouge guerrillas holding three Western hostages made a bold counterattack on Sept 7 to break through encircling government forces.
Around 150 KR fighters took part in assault which brought them down off Phnom Vour (Vine Mountain) to within 15 km of Kampot town itself and helped them gain fresh supplies.
One division of government troops and three tanks fell back to the cement factory at Chakrey Ting and seven police were killed and two more wounded. Four villagers were also injured in the fighting.
As the Post went to press negotiations to free Briton Mark Slater, 28, Jean-Michel Braquet,27, from France and Australian David Wilson,29, were stalled.
The commander of Khmer Rouge Regiment 75 General Paet initially asked for a ransom of $150,000 in gold and has since compounded his demands by linking the hostages' release to ending military aid by their governments.
One of his most recent demands is that the Ambassadors representing the hostages' countries meet directly with the KR's nominal leader Khieu Samphan.
The Westerners are backpackers who were captured on July 27 when the train they were travelling on to Sihanoukville was ambushed.