THE group of villagers hunched over the crackling radio as it picked up the
voices of Khmer Rouge fighters talking to each other.
"Have you found the
commune chief's house yet?" one of the guerrillas could be heard radioing
another. "When you do, burn it and wait until it is smoldering on the
Among those eavesdropping on the instruction with the use of a
villager's radio was the village chief himself, who later retold the story to
He - and his house - survived the attack on Kompung Shhalang
commune, 16km southwest of Battambang town, but many were not so
Others, including children suffering serious burns, were left to
sift through the embers of their homes trying to recover whatever they could
after the KR hit-and-run attack.
It was a similar story at Rieng Kessey
commune, 15km south of Battambang, where the local militia chief said KR
attackers singled out particular buildings to burn.
They included 40
houses, the commune's school and its medicine clinic.
The militiaman said
villagers told him the KR guerrillas were looking for the woman who ran the
clinic, accusing her of helping soldiers by letting them use it.
couldn't find the woman but they set it [the clinic] on fire."
around the town of Bavel, 40km northwest of Battambang - scene of previous
attacks by the KR - were again hit hard in the latest raids.
reports claimed that 8 out of the 10 villages at Kdol Tahen commune, just south
of Bavel, had been almost completely leveled.
Hundreds of houses and
buildings - including schools and a foreign-funded sanitation project - were
said to have been destroyed in repeated raids over several days. Seven civilians
were reported killed, and 15 wounded.
Villagers told the Post the RCAF
used helicopters to drop bombs to force the KR to retreat.
was the scene of a massacre of nearly 50 people in November by the KR, who
accused the villagers of aiding the RCAF.