During the past week, Communist-led forces in the Khmer Republic have stepped up their artillery attacks around the provincial capital of Kompong Speu.
During the past week, Communist-led forces in the Khmer Republic have stepped up their artillery attacks around the provincial capital of Kompong Speu. A Government Military spokesman said that in the space of a few days, seventy rounds of cannon fire had hit the town which is thirty miles west of the Khmer capital, Phnom Penh.
Since the 22 November, when the battle for the area began, the Khmer Government has committed more than four thousand troops to repulse the Communist attacks. They have also been using the largest number of armoured personnel carriers ever engaged in a single action. Many of these have been used in an effort to dislodge Communist troops which are well-entrenched in a village only five-and-a-half miles from Kompong Speu.
The Communist assault is aimed at cutting the important Highway 4 on the east of the town, which leads to Phnom Penh. The road is under constant mortar attack, and vehicles only use it in emergencies. Kompong Speu is vital as it is the only major town with a direct road link to the capital.
Many of the townspeople have left for the relative safety of Phnom Penh, and nearly all the villagers from the outlying district have moved in to the outskirts of Kompong Speu. The residential area was badly damaged when the Communists captured the town early in the war, but the commercial centre was relatively unharmed.
On Tuesday, the 4 December, the United Nations General Assembly debated a resolution demanding the expulsion of the Lon Nol Government's delegation, and its replacement by representatives of the exiled Prince Norodom Sihanouk. A vote on the resolution is expected to take place on Thursday (6 December). Observers in Khmer expected the Communists to launch a heavy assault on Kompong Speu to coincide with the activity at the United Nations.
SYNOPSIS: The streets of Kompong Speu, the provincial capital in the Khmer Republic, are generally deserted except for Government soldiers. For the past few weeks the town - which is only thirty miles west of the Khmer capital Phnom Penh - has been the centre of a fierce artillery assault by Communist-led forces trying to cut the important Highway Four road-link to the capital. Since the battle started, the Government's Military Command has committed more than four-thousand troops to the defence of the area.
The troops patrolling Highway Four have been assisted by helicopters, but they are in short supply.
In addition to the large number of reinforcements sent to the area, the Government forces are also using the largest number of armoured personnel carriers ever engaged in a single action. Most of them are being used to dislodge Communist troops well-entrenched in several strongholds in the surrounding countryside. The Government troops are also making use of new military equipment from the United States. The old type of barbed wire for instance is being replaced by the latest kind with razor sharp blades.
Highway Four is under constant bombardment, and vehicles only use it in emergencies. Kompong Speu is vital for the Government forces, because it is the only major town with a direct road link with the capital.
As the battle increases in intensity, villagers from the surrounding district retreat to the relative safety of the town. Their villages still stand, but many others have been destroyed in the battles for the road since the war began.