For more than a year, the Viet Cong controlled the district of Baray, 65 miles northeast of Phnom Penh in the Khmer Republic.
For more than a year, the Viet Cong controlled the district of Baray, 65 miles northeast of Phnom Penh in the Khmer Republic. A recent offensive by 20,000 government forces drove the Communists out and what the Khmer troops found in Baray was not very pleasant.
About a mile and a half from the village, they came upon a large collection of fresh graves. It's believed more than 200 peasants were buried here -- apparently beaten and hacked to death for opposing the Viet Cong.
During the occupation, villagers said the Communists waged a campaign of terrorism and mass murder. Aided by Khmer collaborators they'd taken more than 1,000 villagers away for what the Communists called "training".
Lieutenant Colonel Lon Non, younger brother of Prime Minister Lon Nol, commanded the offensive which liberated Baray. He told newsmen at the grave site it was macabre: he had never seen anything like it.
According to the villagers, most of those killed were taken from their homes at night. When it became apparent the Communists were being driven out, they murdered most of the village leaders. The village chief was the last to die -- beheaded by the Viet Cong just buff before they fled Baray.
The search for victims will continue for some time. So far, about 100 bodies have been located. But Khmer officials believe this is just one of several mass grave sites near Baray.