Fighting continues in the region of highway two south of the Khmer capital, Phnom Penh, with confused reports coming in on the situation.
Travel shot along Highway with armoured P.carrier
SV PAN Soldier on back of motorcycle
GV Armoured car arrives in town
SV Troops walking along streets
LV Temple PAN TO ashes & rubble
GV PAN People among rubble (2 shots)
SV Ashes TILT DOWN TO small boy with baby (2 shots)
SV General talks to refugees (3 shots)
SV PAN People among rubble
SV General & troops leaving (2 shots)
SV & GV People pushing art & past by personal carrier
Initials SGM/0125 SGM/0115
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Background: Fighting continues in the region of highway two south of the Khmer capital, Phnom Penh, with confused reports coming in on the situation.
Khmer forces have been moving towards communist lines about 25 miles south of the capital. Over the weekend, the communists made steady advance on the flanks of the strategic highway, which links the capital with the major rice growing areas of the country.
The North Vietnamese reopened their offensive in the area on Sunday after a two week lull.
The battle for control of the highway has become a see-saw affair. Several towns along the way have been destroyed in communist attacks. It's reported that the communists have used artillery in the area for the first time and the local people have been feeling the effects.
Refugees have been streaming out of the battle area and heading up the highway towards the relative safety of Phnom Penh.
SYNOPSIS: Armoured personnel carriers and troops moving along Highway Two...the road linking Phnom Penh with the rich, rice growing areas of the Khmer Republic.
Government and Communist forces have been contesting control of the highway for months. During the weekend, the communists stepped up their attacks after a lull of two weeks.
The fighting has see-sawed, with advantages going first to one side and then the other. The losers have been the villagers: hundreds have lost families, friends and homes in attacks by communist gunners and sappers. Now, despite the presence of Khmer government troops, many villagers are getting out.
Airborne troops have been reinforcing the Khmer infantry in the Highway Two trouble spots, but their combined efforts have not been enough to relieve several small garrisons under siege by the communists. There have been reports that the communists have been using tanks and -- for the first time -- artillery, to crack the more heavily defended government outposts along the highway.
Over a hundred refugees on the roads leading north from the battle area reported that they had lost all of their possessions in the recent fighting. Many of them predicted the fighting would continue for some time. Meanwhile, the exodus continues as refugees head for the relative safety of the capital, Phnom Penh, between twenty and thirty miles to the north.