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KR ravage Poipet via Thailand

KR ravage Poipet via Thailand

KHMER Rouge guerrillas hiked through Thailand to launch a bloody attack on

Poipet, which left 13 dead and 24 wounded, commune chief Kong Sophath has

alleged.

Thai officials crossed the border a day later on March 23 to ask

for bodies of KR fighters killed in the raid, Sophath claimed.

He said

the Thais made their clandestine trip after a second KR attack failed to recover

the bodies.

"The Khmer Rouge came from Thailand. In Poipet, Thailand is

on both sides. Khmer Rouge from Phnom Kronach cut through Thailand to fight in

Poipet and went back the same way," Sophath said, drawing a dirt map for

reporters to show how the guerrillas avoided a government troop concentration

west of the city.

"The Thais and the Khmer Rouge cooperate, but

government troops are not allowed to pass through Thailand," Sophath

continued.

Sophath said a force of about 200 initially attacked on March

22. The KR had an estimated fighting strength of 450-500 in the area around

Poipet, but since the fall of Anlong Veng more KR soldiers and families have

settled in the countryside around the border crossing.

In the initial

attack six KR, five civilians, and two policemen were killed. Another 24

civilians, including many women and children, were wounded.

"I heard AKs

attack on the road. I looked out and saw black shirts. Some had hats, others

kramas. I heard them shout "Johl, Johl," - "Enter, enter," said Sum Pochheng

Ung, who runs an orphanage caring for 37 young children on the outskirts of the

city.

"[The KR] asked people if our building was a military camp.

"They said 'No it's not, it's an orphan camp,' otherwise we would have

been attacked.

"In the fighting I sent all the children to the trench

behind the building. It had been raining for two or three days so the trench had

a lot of water and the children were very wet. They've used it four times [since

October]."

"I thought I would die. I have a bad knee and I cannot walk so

I sat in my room and prayed to Buddha to bless me, bless my

children."

Sopath added: "They fired at the people as they ran. The ones

who couldn't run were shot."

Poipet police repulsed the advancing KR ,

who entered the city as far as the market's edge before retreating, abandoning

the bodies of the dying.

According to a nother local source, scavengers

followed the KR, looting from the dead. He said:"People are sometimes more

scared by what's around the fighting than the fighting."

Less than 12

hours later, a smaller KR force attacked again.

"Fifty [KR] came to try

to take the dead back the next day," Sophath said.

A combined police and

military effort pushed the second wave of KR back without casualties, leaving

three KR bodies from the previous night's fighting in government hands on the

Cambodian side of the border.

The corpses of three other KR, who escaped

to Thailand before dying, were recovered by the guerrillas during the second

attack.

Three hours later Sophath saw "Thai officials come to ask for

the dead men back. I didn't know their names, but the provincial governor knew

them.

"We didn't give them. The provincial governor asked for an official

request from the Thai government."

The Post was unable to contact the

provincial governor for comment.

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