As fresh clashes along the border with Cambodia spotlight one of the hottest flash points for trouble between the Kingdom of Thailand and its Communist neighbours, Thai authorities have started to give weapons training to villagers in the area.
GV ZOOM INTO SV Villagers at Ko Peck village watching others training (2 shots)
CU Villagers standing at attention with weapons (2 shots)
CU Soldier instructing villager in weapon maintenance
CU Men firing rifles on rifle range (2 shots)
SV PAN Villagers run off into bushes on mock defence manoeuvre (2 shots)
SV Villagers simulate firing rifles
SV PAN Others run to bolster "defenders" (2 shots)
SV PAN Mock injured carried off
GV "Prisoners" captured (2 shots)
SV Commanding General of First Army, General Amnak watching manoeuvres
SV Villagers marching past as Buddhist monk sprinkles them with water
SV Villagers march past General Amnak
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Background: As fresh clashes along the border with Cambodia spotlight one of the hottest flash points for trouble between the Kingdom of Thailand and its Communist neighbours, Thai authorities have started to give weapons training to villagers in the area.
SYNOPSIS: One of the first villages where the experiment's being tried out is Ko Peck, just north of the border town of Aranyaprathet. It's an area where there've been dozens of clashes, and the death toll among government troops and villagers alike has been steadily mounting.
Ironically, while Royalist troops were teaching these villagers how to use guns...villagers on Thailand's other troubled border with Malaysia, were being banned from carrying weapons.
It's not just a matter of teaching the villagers how to shoot. Here, the 180-odd men taking part in the training are split up into two teams....the attackers, and the defenders.
But it's not a game...the action they're trying out is all too real. In January hamlets throughout this area were attacked by several hundred Cambodians. The resultant massacre of Thai villagers horrified the world, as men, women and children were slain. Feeling here runs high, and it's doubtful any Communist captured would receive such gentle treatment as this "prisoner" taken during the exercise.
High-ranking officials, including General Amnak, Commander of the First Army area, have been keeping a close watch on the training. It's not just through weapons training that the Thai government's trying to consolidate villages bordering Communist activity. Both here and on the border with Malaysia, the Government's mounting a "hearts and minds" campaign, to show the people the Government cares for them.