Government forces in the Khmer Republic continue to meet strong communist resistance in their fight to reopen highway 5.
Government forces in the Khmer Republic continue to meet strong communist resistance in their fight to reopen highway 5. The Highway, which links the capital, phnom Penh, with the rice-growing province of Battamborg, has been closed since September.
On Tuesday (12 December), the front-line khmer forces -- some twenty kilometres (twelve miles) north-west of Phnom Penh -- had only one Armoured Personnel Carrier to support their infantry. Their task was to reopen a stretch of the Highway that ran through jungle alongside the Tonlesap river. The government jungle cover. Although the single APC were able to prevent a suspected communist flanking movement, three soldiers were wounded, and one was killed during the communists's mortar and machine gun attack.
By the following day, Wednesday (13 December), the government forces had to retreat three kilometres (just under two miles) down the Highway. However, they received reinforcements, in the shape of armoured support. Several Khmer officers expressed doubts that the road would be reopened in the near future. Communists are dug in on both sides of the Mokong, and while inland areas remain flooded, the Khmers are unable to mount any clearing operation, except along the highway itself.