Highway Five in the Khmer Republic - the vital link between the capital, Phnom Penh, and the rice-rich Battambang area - is under fire again.
Highway Five in the Khmer Republic - the vital link between the capital, Phnom Penh, and the rice-rich Battambang area - is under fire again. Communist forces cut the road last week, but three days later Government troops regained control, after a bitter battle.
However, the Communists did not give in. On Thursday night (30 August) they attacked again. Their target was So Vong, a Government outpost, 40 miles (65 km), from the capital. Seven of the 200 Government soldiers at the camp were killed in the fighting. Another 53 were wounded.
The following morning, they attacked again - but fell back under heavy small arms, mortar, machine gun and grenade fire. However, it's reported the communists are massing again for an all-out assault sometime in the next ten days.
Highway Five is vitally important as a supply route for Phnom Penh. Most of the rice consumed in the capital travels along it. Now, most of the villages on the highway are deserted. Refugees from further north have squatted in some areas, but - as the fighting intensifies again - most people have moved closer to the relative safety of Phnom Penh.
SYNOPSIS: Highway Five, in the Khmer Republic - the vital link between the capital, Phnom Penh, and the rich-rice fields of Battambang - is under fierce Communist attack again. Over the last few days, control of the highway has swayed from one side to the other.
And as the fighting intensifies, the villagers move out - leaving deserted villages behind them. They head for the relative safety of Phnom Penh.
The flood of refugees into Phnom Penh creates problems of its own. The demand for food has spiralled - and most of the rice consumed in the capital is hauled along Highway Five. So as the battles go on - the strategic importance of the route increases.
One of the few occupied outposts on the highway is So Vong, 40 miles from the capital, where two hundred Government troops are holding out against a determined Communist attack.
The Communist cut the highway, but three days later, the Government regained control after a bitter battle.
In the fighting at So Vong, seven Government soldiers were killed and another 53 were wounded.
The Communists were beaten back, under a barrage of fire - but they're reportedly massing for another attack.