The 13,000 Cambodian and South Vietnamese troops who re-opened Cambodia's Highway Four just over a week ago are treated as heroes by the Government.
CAMBODIAN TROOPS RETURNING FROM FRONT: SOLDIERS EATING IN CAMP: SOLDIERS CHECKING VEHICLES ON ROAD: DAMAGED BRIDGE: CAMBODIAN ARMOURED COLUMN: EMPTY ROAD: LORRY CARRYING TROOPS ALONG ROAD. (TELERECORDING)
SV Cambodian and South Vietnamese troops return in lorries (4 shots)
SV Soldiers in camp eating
SV Men and woman soldiers checking vehicles at checkpoint (4 shots)
SV Damaged bridge across river (3 shots)
SV Cambodian tanks (5 shots)
TRACK SHOT along Route Four
SV Lorry carrying troops along road
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Background: The 13,000 Cambodian and South Vietnamese troops who re-opened Cambodia's Highway Four just over a week ago are treated as heroes by the Government. But there is still little traffic using the American-built strategic road, linking Phnom Penh with the coast and the oil refineries at Kompong Som.
Near the capital, things seem back virtually to normal, with the usual checkpoints on the road, but few of the cars checked have come the full 150 miles (240 kms) from the coast. Most have come from nearby towns.
The main purpose of the fight to re-open the road was to allow vital fuel supplies to get through to Phnom Penh; during the two months the road was closed, the capital was supplied by weasels exposed to Viet Cong ambush along the Mekong river.
But in the first week since the strategic Pich Nil pass fell to Government troops on January 20, the companies who own the fuel trucks showed a marked reluctance to use the road. A convoy of 30 empty tankers finally left the capital uacer military escort on Friday (January 29).
Bridges on the road are open, but show scars from earlier attacks. Further out from the capital, there is little traffic apart from occasional Cambodian armoured columns, and those do not move often or very far. Troops said they had met no resistance since the road was opened, but were only interested in stopping the flow of fuel.
Elsewhere the road seems completely deserted, except for a few peasants moving between their homes and their fields.