B ATTAMBANG - Three policemen, two elderly men and a nun were killed in a New
Year's massacre at a Battambang pagoda by the Khmer Rouge.
A band of
guerrillas entered the pagoda's grounds, one of them dropping to the ground to
fire a tripod-mounted heavy machine gun at a group of people, according to
The attack occurred at about 10pm on April 14, the first day
of the Khmer New Year, at Bay Samram pagoda in Banan district, about 14km from
"We were sitting on a bed, watching villagers play
traditional games when a group of about 30 Khmer Rouge soldiers arrived," said a
12-year-old monk. "One of them knelt on the ground and used a machine-gun to
fire at us.
"We were very shocked and ran quickly to the Kod (monk's
The machine-gunner fired at one particular group of people,
including the policemen, who were not in uniform. The other KR apparently did
not open fire.
The policemen were instantly hit, witnesses said, along
with two elderly Achar (pagoda lay people who serve monks) and a nun who had
been sitting near them.
They fell to the ground in a twisted heap,
witnesses said. One wounded Achar struggled to his feet, raising his hands in a
salute - apparently pleading to be spared - but was felled by another burst of
bullets by the gunman.
A local villager was also seriously injured in the
attack, which lasted only a few minutes before the guerrillas fled.
residents said the KR appeared to have been tipped off by someone, because they
knew where to find the policemen.
One woman said a guerrilla told her: "I
kill only police and military. I don't kill any people."
When the Post
visited the pagoda the following day, blood stains and bullet holes were clearly
visible on the ground and in a roof near where the six were
Though Cambodia funerals usually take at least two days, five
of the dead were quickly cremated the day after the attack because of villagers'
fears the KR would return and interrupt their funerals.
One woman said
the KR, before they left, had told villagers: "No need to celebrate funeral. We
will be back later on. Prepare rice for us."
However, a full funeral was
held for the sixth person, one of the elderly Achar, who lived a long way from
The man's bloody body was cremated as his daughters and other
relatives wept in scorching midday heat.