THE Khmer Rouge has continued to launch regular attacks around Battambang -
reportedly coming as close as 2km to the provincial capital at one time - to
loot property and flatten villages.
Brigadier General Chea Ros, deputy
commander of Battambang, estimated that some 2,000 guerrillas were taking part
in on-going major offensives in Bavel, Banan and Rattanak Mondul
But he said on Feb 1 that the situation was "not so serious" -
though others disagreed - as the KR were being pushed back.
Six tanks and
at least five helicopter gunships were used by Royal Cambodian Armed Forces
(RCAF) to fight the rebels in Bavel, scene of repeated KR attacks over months,
northwest of Battambang town.
It is understood that RCAF forces have used
cluster bombs in helicopter attacks to subdue KR rebels.
The Post saw
entire villages which had been burnt to the ground by KR attacks north and south
of Bavel town.
Four villages to the south - Damnak Dangkao, Pongro, Bang
Slep and Kdol Tahen - were razed, as were four to the north - Slak Khlanh,
Rohat, Prey Khpous and Ampil Pram Doeum.
To the east of the Battambang
capital, the district of Ek Phnom came under attack.
Roi Vuthy said about 80 KR split into three groups to attack Ek Phnom from three
directions, burning down 24 houses in one commune, on Jan 29.
were killed in fighting when the rebels attacked the Pean Ek commune, five
kilometers north of Battambang.
They earlier passed through Thkuv
village, just 2km from Battambang town, in what he described as a potential
"serious threat" to the provincial capital.
Vuthy said that the
guerrillas were eventually forced northward back to their Khla Trey base by 80
RCAF troops supported by armored personnel carriers.
But on Feb 2 he
remained seriously worried.
"I fear the Khmer Rouge will launch another
"I am very concerned because in every previous Khmer
Rouge attack or raid in my district I and my troops were not able to stop it."
Villagers in Pean Ek, trying to resume their lives after the latest
raids when the Post visited, were worried that the KR could return any
"It was a very frightening...they came in our villages firing their
guns and mortars and burned down our houses, said Chhun Kim.
that every night many villagers in the commune collected their belongings to
evacuate to Doun Teav and Thkuv villages, while others packed up their
belongings to sleep under trees outside their houses - ready to flee at the
first sign of attack.