B ATTAMBANG authorities claim they are winning the battle against Khmer Rouge
guerrillas in the province, though rebel hit and run attacks are still
"Battambang province is now safe from a large-scale offensive
by Khmer Rouge rebels," Battambang police commander General Van Chhunly, the
head of a special anti-KR force, declared.
The special unit, comprising
1000 policemen and 300 soldiers, was set up last month as many rural areas of
the province were being wracked by repeated KR raids.
Gen Chhunly said
the KR - which had previously lobbed several shells into the outskirts of the
Battambang capital - had been pushed back far from the town.
He said five
districts which had suffered heavy KR attacks - Ek Phnom, Banan, Bavel, Rattanak
Mondul and Moung - were now largely clear of guerrillas.
acknowledged that pockets of KR remained on the outer edges of the
Bavel - where hundreds of houses have been burnt down in KR
scorched-earth attacks since January - remained the most dangerous place for
On March 8, a small group of KR attacked three villages in
Bavel district, about 40 Km northwest from Battambang town, burning down 13
Three rebel soldiers were killed in a counter-attack by Chhunly's
unit, the remainder retreating.
Three days later, 31 villagers were
abducted from Sneung village in Rattanak Mondul district, about 35 Km west of
Battambang town, while cutting firewood in an outlying area.
said two of the villagers later escaped, and reported that the rest had been
marched off along Route 10 toward the KR strong-hold of Pailin.
he had heard reports that they had since been shot dead, but no bodies had been
Meanwhile, seven shells were fired by the KR into two villages in
Rattanak Mondul district on Mar 11. There were no reports of
And on Mar 14, guerillas attacked Rossei Krang village in Moung
district, before being repelled.