Communist-led insurgents today (27 February) fired at least four 107 mm Chinese-made rockets into the Pochentong Town market, west of Phnom Penh, killing seven people and seriously wounding a dozen other.
Communist-led insurgents today (27 February) fired at least four 107 mm Chinese-made rockets into the Pochentong Town market, west of Phnom Penh, killing seven people and seriously wounding a dozen other. Many of the casualties were women and children.
The first two rockets exploded without warning among roadside stalls of the market, which was packed with traders, selling fruit and vegetables, and their customers. Before the casualties had been removed, two more rockets exploded.
The rockets hit the market as a United States transport aircraft was circling over the nearby international airport at the start of a large-scale operation to airlift food and fuel to the beleaguered Khmer capital.
In the three days since the airlift was first announced, the insurgents have launched a number of rocket attacks against the airport.
SYNOPSIS: In the Khmer Republic, civilians run for cover on Thursday from the latest rocket attack launched by Communist-led insurgents.
The victims on Thursday were civilian traders and their customers at a fruit and vegetable market in Pochentong Town, just outside the capital, Phnom Penh. The rockets his the market without warning. And before the casualties could be moved, two more rockets exploded in the crowded market area. Seven people died, and another twelve were seriously injured. Many of the casualties were women and children.
The insurgents have launched a series of rocket attacks since a major United States airlift of fuel and food to Phnom Penh was announced earlier in the week. As the rockets exploded in the market, the first American aircraft were circling the nearby Phnom Penh airport waiting to land with their supplies. Perhaps the airport was the real target of this attack...or perhaps the insurgents were hoping that direct hits on the market would further aggravates the supply situation.
Relatives and friends carried the wounded to hospital in handcarts, cars and on tricycles. The insurgent rockets were said to be Chinese-made 107 mm projectiles.
While all this was happening at the market, another three rocket hit the nearby airport two hours before the first aircraft was due to land at the start of the fuel and food airlift. Aircraft will fly in over five-hundred tonnes of rice a day, plus half a million gallons of fuel.
But the insurgent reaction to the airlift has been sudden and savage. There are reports that they are moving five-thousand combat troops to positions just across the Mekong River from Phnom Penh. And these pose the threat of increased rocket attacks, possibly backed up with mortar and artillery fire.