Very young boys have become fully-fledged soldiers in Kirirom Province in the south-west of the Khmer Republic.
GV PAN Boy soldiers marching back to camp singing
GV's & SV's Boy Soldiers clearing away earth mound and dumping earth (4 shots)
SV Boys throwing twigs on pile
GV and SV Boy soldiers in guard tower with gun
SV Refugees arriving at camp in cart and with cattle (2 shots)
LV & SV Refuges couple sitting under blanket (2 shots)
GV PAN makeshift tents
GV Refuges camp
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Very young boys have become fully-fledged soldiers in Kirirom Province in the south-west of the Khmer Republic. They have been going on patrol and guarding refugee camps.
The boys, who are equipped with American Ml rifles, began training in May. It's reported that their training camp has been attacked by communist troops. They have built a fort and keep watch from guard toward on refugees who have gathered in makeshift shelters.
Kirirom province stands between Phnom Penh and the vital sea-port of Kompong Som. It's crossed by Highway Four which has recently been reopened by government troops.
When fighting first broke out with communist forces in 1970, the government refused the services of boy volunteers. But the increasingly fierce fighting has forced the government to accept them and to enforce conscription of able-bodied men much more rigorously. The bitterest battles in recent weeks have been around the city of Kompong Cham to the north-east of the city.
SYNOPSIS: Very young boys who started training in Kirirom province of the Khmer Republic in May, have become fully-fledged government soldiers. They are equipped with Ml rifles, supplied by the United States and have been on patrol in areas of fairly high communist activity. It's reported that their training camp has been attacked by communist soldiers.
When fighting first broke out with communist forces in 1970, the government refused the services of boy volunteers. But the increasingly fierce conflict has led the government to accept them and to enforce conscription of able-bodied man more rigorously. American aid ceased on August 15th and there have been frequent round-ups of men between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, in an attempt to bring the native Khmer forces up to about three-hundred-thousand. The first real test of the ability of the Khmers to stand on their own feet has been in Kompong Cham to the north-east of Phnom Penh, where the fighting has been exceptionally heavy.
In Kirirom, to the south-west, the boy soldiers have been guarding refugees who have been gathering in makeshift settlements. Kirirom lies between Phnom Penh and the seaport of Kompong Som.
The province is also crossed by Highway Four and was recently the scene of heavy fighting when the road was reopened by government forces. These refugees have elected to say under the protection of the boy soldiers, but many others have streamed up the road to Phnom Penh.