The two-and-a-half million people who live in and around Phnom Pehn know that the Communists could unleash a barrage of shells, or even occupy a city, before the Indochina ceasefire is signed.
SV & CU Govt forces directing refugees with their belongings on vehicles (2 shots)
LV Artillery unit with field guns
CU Shells prepared
LV Guns being fired
SV PAN & LV Ruins of Prey Totoeng (3 shots)
CU Distraught woman
LV Govt troops walks through ruins and rubble
CU Saddened woman remonstrates troops
"The Cambodian Government says 80 per cent of the people live in government-controlled areas. This may or may not be true. But even the government admits that today it controls only 20 per cent of the entire country. One year ago, it held 50 per cent.
This Cambodian artillery outfit hadn't been here too long: they'd been busy. They were supporting troops farther south at Tran Khnar, a town 25 miles from Phnom Penh. A mixed force of North Vietnamese and Khmere Rouge, Hanoi's Cambodian allies, attacked Tram Khnar and were still in the area. The Cambodians tried to flush them out with their guns. But it wasn't working too well.
Prey Totoeng wasn't very far from Tram Khnar. It was overrun the night before. Mrs. Proum lived in Pray Totoeng with her husband, her two children, and he home she was born in. She was bitter, heartbroken and angry. She Kept asking the government soldiers, "Why didn't you come sooner. Why didn't you protect us" The soldiers didn't reply."
Initials ESP/1227 ESP/1312
This commentary is from Phil Brady, National Broadcasting Company News. An alternative appears overleaf.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The two-and-a-half million people who live in and around Phnom Pehn know that the Communists could unleash a barrage of shells, or even occupy a city, before the Indochina ceasefire is signed.
There is already evidence that nearly 600 Communist saboteurs have infiltrated Phonm Penh. Intelligence sources say the drive into the Cambodian capital is to destroy Government buildings and to assassinate officials.
Those fears aren't groundless. The village of Prey Totoeng, about 25 miles from Phnom Penh, has already fallen to a mixed force from North Vietnam and Khmere Rouge, Hanoi's Cambodian allies. Cambodian Government help did eventually come... but it was too late.
SYNOPSIS: For weeks the tiny town of Prey Totoeng, like so many other towns around Phonm Penh, waited in terror for some kind of attack from North Vietnamese troops. And when Prey Totoeng wasn't ready for it, the attacks came. The town was almost flattened.
When the Cambodian forces did arrive, all that was left to do was controlling refugees and an occasional burst of fire at the already victorious Communists. This sort of attack is likely to go on while North Vietnam sees Cambodia as a stepping stone to the south, even if the Paris Peace Talks succeed. The North Vietnamese are showing no signs of leaving Cambodia, and while they stay, fighting will go on.
Prey Totoeng is only a couple of miles south of Tram Khnar, and that's where the Cambodian troops were when the enemy invaded prey Totoeng. Buildings were shelled, houses were burned down, prisoners were taken and several people were killed... All before government troops even heard that the attack had begun.
By the time the Cambodian troops did arrive, enemy forces had done what they came to do and were out of sight. The legacy of the attack was wreckage and heartbreak.
This woman lost everything she had in the overnight attack. She lost her husband, her two young children, and the house she'd lived in all her life. When the government soldiers came to take her to the safety of a refugee camp, she kept asking them why they hadn't come sooner... why they didn't arrive in time to save the town. They didn't answer.