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
Thai officials crossed the border a day later on March 23 to ask
for bodies of KR fighters killed in the raid, Sophath claimed.
the Thais made their clandestine trip after a second KR attack failed to recover
"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
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
"[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
"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
"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
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
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
"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.