An estimated 1,500 Communist troops recently attacked the Cambodian garrison at Talat Camp, which straddles Highway Four some 45 miles (75 km) south-west of the capital, Phnom Penh.
An estimated 1,500 Communist troops recently attacked the Cambodian garrison at Talat Camp, which straddles Highway Four some 45 miles (75 km) south-west of the capital, Phnom Penh. Last Wednesday (December 29) a Cambodian relief column stopped one and a half miles (2 km) short of the beleaguered garrison. A cameraman, however, got through and found the camp seriously damaged.
The Cambodian garrison managed to fight off the attack by the Viet Cong but the Communists continued to encircle most of the camp, so cutting Phnom Penh's sole link with the country's only port, Kompong Som.
All traffic from the capital is forced to halt at a bridge about a mile (1 km) short of Talat Camp. The Government guard on the bridge came under fire during the Communist attack and one soldier was killed and three wounded. Last Wednesday an adventurous taxi driver reached the bridge but then decided to turn back. His vehicle was used to evacuate the wounded.
At a hamlet nearby, Communist mortars demolished a house. As its stunned occupants surveyed the smoking ruins, their neighbours packed up their belongings and fled.
Nearer to Phnom Penh, a relief column of Cambodian troops and armoured vehicles moved off in an attempt to reach Talat Camp. They moved cautiously and finally stopped near the bridge. While they paused, VISNEWS cameraman Neil Davis ventures beyond the bridge and into the camp itself.
He found it badly damaged, after being hit by an estimated 250 mortar bombs. Among the dead were the wife and son of a Cambodian soldier. There were many wounded who could not be evacuated because Communist troops were positioned in the trees only 300 yards (about 300 metres) away. The Vietnamese attackers were said to have lost nearly a hundred men in their unsuccessful attempt to over-run the camp.