The town of Kampong Thom, which lies 175 miles (273 km.) from Phnom Pehn in the Khmer Republic, has been besieged by Communist forces since June 1970.
The town of Kampong Thom, which lies 175 miles (273 km.) from Phnom Pehn in the Khmer Republic, has been besieged by Communist forces since June 1970. It has endured the longest siege of any town held by Khmer Government forces.
During the past three years it has survived many attacks by the anti-Government forces, and on several occasions it looked as thought the town would fall. During some attacks the fighting even reached the streets of the town, but each time the insurgents were repulsed.
On Thursday (14 February) the Khmer Government High Command claimed that its forces had retaken a number of villages around the besieged town. The villages contained about fifteen thousand people, and the operation to clear insurgents from them lasted abut two days.
The High Command said that eleven insurgents were killed and four captured in the fighting. Government casualties were not given.
Military observers believe that the Government drive to clear a larger area around Kampong Thom has been helped by the fact that the Communist leaders have moved a large bulk of their forces to concentrate on the attack against Phnom Penh.
In the past month the population of Kampong Thom has almost doubled as the Government forces have cleared an ever widening area around the town. Most of the people arriving in the town are refuges from the villages that have been released from Communist control after three-and-a-half years.
The refugees mainly consist of old people, women and children, as most of the able-bodied men have been taken by the Communists to fight. At least ten thousand refugees have arrived in the last three weeks, and they are living under makeshift shelters consisting of large plastic sheets.
During the entire siege, the people still living in the town and the Army garrison have received food and other supplies from air-drops. There is no airfield at Kampong Thom. Most of the town's shops close long ago, and the only commodities still on sale are essential foodstuffs.