Christmas Day for some Cambodian Government troops was spent re-opening Highway 6, blocked the day before by pro-Sihanouk forces.
Christmas Day for some Cambodian Government troops was spent re-opening Highway 6, blocked the day before by pro-Sihanouk forces. Phnom Penh forces also pushed up Highway 7 to the devastated town of Prey Totung.
The area of Highway 6 is known as "ambush alley" and the forces moved carefully down the road which provides shelter for guerrillas in the woods on either side.
As soon as the road was declared open a long line of vehicles carrying refugees moved the highway towards Phnom Penh, about 80 kms (50 miles) to the South.
Prey Totung is along Highway 7, about 100 kms (62 miles) from the capital and when troops entered the town they found scenes of almost complete devastation. Pro-Sihanouk forces held the town for two weeks recently and the area was the subject of concentrated artillery and aircraft attacks. One an attractive country centre with a population of several thousand, Prey Totung us now 80 percent deserted. Now there are almost nightly attacks on the town from Communist forces still in the area.
Those who remain in Prey Totung are mainly refugees. Soldiers and townspeople salvaged salt from what remained of local stores. then buses and trucks were made available to move the refugees to relative safety in the Phnom Penh Areas. Even around the capital, however, the sound of artillery fire could be heard as church bells rang to celebrate Christmas.
When the war leaves Prey Totung, the devastation will remain. Wrecked buildings, small public facilities, the emotionless face of war. A useless to friend and enemy alike. The quick moving. shapeless war in Cambodia has left its mark on Prey Totung.