BATTAMBANG - Marauding Khmer Rouge guerrillas responsible for hit and run
attacks on six northwest villages last week launched their assault through
Thailand, a senior Cambodian army commander and U.N. officials
At least five people were killed, scores injured and 545 houses
destroyed during the New Years Day attack on the villages in Ampil district in
Cambodia's far northwest corner.
About 300 Khmer Rouge guerrillas took
part in the hit and run assault according to local Cambodian army officers and
"I think it's very plausible these attackers came through
Thailand -and they've gone back there.
"They (Khmer Rouge) are unbeatable
if they can keep coming through Thailand," the senior U.N. official said on Jan.
The official speaks fluent Khmer and has more than 13 years experience
managing the border relief operation both in Thailand and Cambodia.
a very cowardly thing to do-nip across the Thai border," he said.
latest damaging allegations of Thai military complicity in helping the rebels
follows revelations last month of a secret arms cache of 1,500 tones of weapons
and munitions being stored by the Thai army in southeast Chantaburi province for
use by the Khmer Rouge.
The Thai army denied helping the Khmer Rouge and
claimed the weapons which have since been moved away from the border for
safekeeping were their own.
The attack on one of the six villagers, Thmar
Don, was launched from the Thai side by Khmer guerrillas based at Trapaing Krous
about 20 kilometers southwest, a second United Nations official
Lt-Gen Prom Van Sareth, chief advisor to Military Region Four, told
Reuters in Ampil that he was in no doubt the KR had received help from the Thai
"According to local people who were seized by the Khmer Rouge
during the attack-they say the Khmer Rouge were loaded on Thai trucks and got
off the trucks at Chong Khlang (a Thai village) and walked across the border
"If you don't believe me-come with me and see their path,"
he said gesturing to the border where the thick undergrowth lay crushed,
allegedly by the KR attackers.
General Sareth's own house in Phum Chuk
village was left a smoking ruin after the attacks.
"The KR came in via
three paths and after attacking withdrew the same way," said General Sareth
pointing towards Thailand. "The three paths lead into Thai territory."
official from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said at
least six villages had been "burnt to the ground" causing between 2,500 and
3,000 people to become homeless.
Local Cambodian military commanders said
that the attack on the old royalist stronghold in Ampil was "revenge" for an
earlier attack by government soldiers on the strategic Khmer Rouge logistics
base at Phum Chhat in northwest Thmar Pouk district.
A KR attack on the
northwest border crossing at O'Smach last October was also claimed by the
Cambodian army to have been launched from Thai territory.
attack, two Thai army officers were seen by a Reuters correspondent to be
negotiating with their royalist counterparts for permission to bring two logging
trucks across the border to remove felled timber.