A major battle is underway in the area around Potchentong International Airport on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
A major battle is underway in the area around Potchentong International Airport on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The battle began on Wednesday (January 8) when Khmer Republic forces launched a major counterattack against insurgents dug-in near the airport. The guerrillas had been shelling both the airport and the centre of Phnom Penh, which was only three miles (five kilometres) from their positions.
One Khmer General described the battle as one of the most decisive of the war. The government has committed about three-thousand troops, armoured personnel carriers, artillery, navy gunboats and air strikes to the fight against the estimated five-thousand-man insurgent force which controls the region to the North and West of Phnom Penh.
A company of Khmer marines, which landed North of the insurgents on Wednesday (January 9) as part of a pincer movement, is reported pinned down in a swamp under heavy fire.
The thrust of the attack is aimed at Chou Var village about a mile (one point six kilometres) from the airport. This is the area of closest penetration by the guerrillas to the defence perimeter of Phnom Penh. Some three hundred insurgents in this area have slowed the Government advance to a crawl.
SYNOPSIS: Khmer forces, including armoured personnel carriers, formed up on wednesday prior to launching a major counter-attack against insurgents controlling the region North and West of Phnom Penh. Air strikes were called to support the attack.
The assault was finally launched in the area of the Phnom Penh International Airport after a company of Marines had landed to the East to form a pincer movement. The Marines came under heavy fire and are currently pinned down in a swamp.
The Khmer Republic has committed some three thousand troops, armoured personnel carriers, navy gunboats and air strikes to what a General called, "one of the most decisive battles of the war". The counterattack is trying to dislodge an estimated five thousand insurgents. The focal point of the battle is the village of Chou Var which is about a mile from the airport. Insurgents have been using the area around the village to shell the airport and the centre of Phnom Penh.
Despite aerial support, the Government advance has been very slow. Khmer troops are under intense fire from well dug-in guerrilla units. In addition, the insurgents have blocked most key roads with fallen trees.