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Kralanh massacre reports being checked

Kralanh massacre reports being checked

A bout 95 villagers, abducted by Khmer Rouge rebels to work on roads in Siem Reap province in mid October, have been reported to have been massacred.

The province's Deputy Governor, Hem Bunheng, said on December 13 that he had received reports of the killings in Kralanh district but no bodies had yet been found.

He had sent soldiers to Keut Mountain, where the massacre was said to have occurred, and was awaiting word from them.

"I can't confirm it is a true story. It is just a report which I have received from my colleagues in Kralanh district."

The villagers were reportedly killed about December 7 after their families failed to pay rice ransoms for them.

He rejected any suggestions the killings, if they happened, were a response to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces' recent capture of the former KR Phnom Kulen stronghold.

The villagers were among some 300 people abducted by the KR in Kralanh and Srey Snam districts in October. Guerrillas were said to have gone around villages demanding 20 to 25 people from each and threatening to burn down houses if they were not provided.

In what was seen as part of the KR's preparations for dry-season fighting with the RCAF, the villagers were put to work building roads from their Anlong Veng stronghold to six nearby districts. They were also made to transport ammunition for the rebels.

Hem Bunheng said several hundred of the villagers had since escaped and returned to their homes. Those remaining, who were now reported to be dead, were mainly administrative staff such as chiefs and deputy chiefs of villages and communes.

The KR is believed to have been responsible for several recent massacres in northeast Cambodia, including that of Thai timber workers near the border.