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Rebels looking isolated around Preah Vihear

Rebels looking isolated around Preah Vihear

THE Cambodian army has cut the Khmer Rouge's internal supply line in the

country's far north Preah Vihear province, a senior army commander

said.

"They cannot get supplies from the Cambodian side anymore,"

Lieutenant General Khann Sovoern said late last month.

Unless the

estimated 2,000 rebel guerrillas in the province could get supplies from

Thailand, they could not survive for more than a month, he said.

But he

believed they would be able to secure supplies from Thailand.

Meanwhile,

the government said it had captured a key KR base at Preah Ponleu, 20km west of

the ancient Preah Vihear temple on the Thai border.

Information Minister

Ieng Mouly said that capture could clear the way for the Royal Cambodian Armed

Forces to take the KR-occupied temple.

"It's a very big base and if we

can keep the base we can go to Preah Vihear," he said.

But Lt Gen Sovoern

denied any imminent plans to try to retake the temple by military means, saying:

"We're trying to do everything which does not affect or damage the

temple."

The 10th century temple, located on an almost sheer clifftop and

readily accessible only from Thailand, has long been a symbol of Cambodian

nationalism.

Previously claimed by Thailand, it was given back to

Cambodia in the 1960s. It has been occupied by KR guerrillas since last

year.

Thai military personnel on the border said that fighting between

the Cambodian army and the KR had taken place 5-10km from the

temple.

Thailand's government has lodged a protest about shells allegedly

fired from the RCAF landing on Thai soil in the conflict.

Meanwhile, a

Thai military source told Reuters that Thai army engineers working near the

border have accidentally unearthed an arms cache apparently buried by KR

guerrillas.

An underground chamber containing about 50 mortar bombs, 65

rocket-propelled grenades and a large amount of fuses and gunpowder was found at

Koh Maung village on Thai territory.

The source said the weapons were

probably hidden by KR on Thai soil to avoid detection by RCAF patrols.

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