A battalion of guerrilla troops, who have deserted the communist forces, showed their fighting ability on Tuesday (5 March), in an attempt to persuade the Khmer Government to enlist their services.
A battalion of guerrilla troops, who have deserted the communist forces, showed their fighting ability on Tuesday (5 March), in an attempt to persuade the Khmer Government to enlist their services. They fired mortars at the presumed positions of their former comrades -- the communist insurgents -- 25 Kilometres (15 miles) south-west of Phnom Penh.
The guerrillas have set up camp by a pagoda about one mile from a government post on Highway Four. Many of the 650 strong battalion are young boys and women. They appeared to have a good supply of weapons.
On Tuesday their leaders spoke over a field telephone with a Government officer who engaged in some humorous banter while suggesting they come over to the government side. During the conversation, another insurgent -- speaking a mixture of Vietnamese and Khmer -- broker in and advised the guerrillas not to join the government.
The battalion commander, Dong Phoec, told Visnews cameraman, Neil Davis, that his battalion wanted to join the Government side because they disapproved of the North Vietnamese communist influence on the Khmer insurgent forces. He pointed out that his battalion were Khmer Rumdos -- Khmer Nationalists.
The guerrillas have laid down strict terms for their defection.The main one was that they should remain as a separate unit.
Dong Phoec said that if they did not get a satisfactory reply they would return to the jungle. He added that another seven battalions -- totalling 6000 men -- were awaiting the outcome of the talks, and that they would join the Government side if they were happy with the arrangements.