W hen Khmer Rouge guerrillas recaptured their northern bases around Anlong Veng
on Feb 24, they destroyed two government T-54 Soviet main battle tanks during
While in itself not seemingly unusual, the fact that
the guerrillas used a sophisticated German-made anti-tank missile to accomplish
the task was.
The Ambrust tank kills have highlighted a simmering anger
and divisiveness within the ranks of the newly integrated Royal Cambodian Armed
Forces between the soldiers of the CPP and those of the former guerrilla
factions of Funcinpec and the KPNLF.
CPP commanders and soldiers blame
the former guerrillas for providing the Khmer Rouge with the weapons. CPP
soldiers also grumble that their new allies still maintain loyalty to the Khmer
Rouge, claiming they have refused to attack some Khmer Rouge positions, and even
lied about Khmer Rouge positions to protect friends who remain in the ranks of
the guerrilla faction.
Some Funcinpec and KPNLF soldiers contend the CPP
soldiers are incompetent jungle fighters, forcing the former guerrillas to
assume the lion's share of the more dangerous tasks of penetrating the Khmer
Many rank and file Funcinpec and KPNLF soldiers are loathe
to attack and kill some Khmer Rouge soldiers who remain friends after fighting
side by side during the 14-year civil war in which they were allies.
former guerrillas are also more sympathetic to a political solution to the
conflict which would bring the Khmer Rouge into the new government.
69-mm Armbrust anti-tank weapon was part of a number of covert shipments of
sophisticated weapons to the two non- communist guerrilla factions in the summer
of 1989 by Singapore through a government controlled arms company called
Chartered Industries. More than 100 Ambrusts were supplied to the non-communist
The weapons, along with another Singapore supplied anti-tank
weapon - the Swedish 84 mm Carl Gustav - contributed greatly to a successful
guerrilla offensive launched in the days after the Vietnamese military
withdrawal in September 1989. The Armbrust is a one-time-use shoulder-fired
weapon, which has to be visually aimed and has a range of 300
Tensions within the ranks of the army are not limited to the rank
and file. Some Funcinpec officials believe that bringing the Khmer Rouge into
the government can offer them protection against the CPP who they believe will
attempt to eventually strip them of power.
" The day the Khmer Rouge are
dead, is the day Funcinpec will be dead," commented a senior Funcinpec General
in the government army.
Others say that the CPP is loathe to bring the
Khmer Rouge into the government because it will undermine their own control over
the state while strengthening Funcinpec's. "The CPP supports fighting because
they are afraid the KR will come back to join the government, and then the CPP
will have less control," said a western diplomat.