INTRODUCTION: The Thai government is reported to have complained strongly to Cambodia following the massacre last Friday (28 January) of 30 people, including women and children, by Khmer Rouge forces.
INTRODUCTION: The Thai government is reported to have complained strongly to Cambodia following the massacre last Friday (28 January) of 30 people, including women and children, by Khmer Rouge forces. The attack, by about three hundred troops, near the border town of Aranyaprathet, was the biggest of its kind since the Communists came to power in Cambodia in March 1975. The new incident follows numerous clashes between Cambodian and Thai forces along the tense frontier in recent months. The right-wing Thai regime forces are also under increasing attack from Communist guerrillas near the border with Malaysia.
SYNOPSIS: Police road blocks - like this one a few miles north of the Thai/Malay border - have been set up throughout southern Thailand to check vehicles for supplies destined for the guerrillas. The insurgents have stepped up their 11-year-old battle to take over Thailand and have been inflicting heavier losses on government forces. They have matched increased military activity with some spectacular strikes in both northern and southern areas.
But the Thai authorities have been hitting back. Early last month, artillery, aircraft and armed helicopters pounded the jungle slopes where hundreds of guerrillas were said to be holed up. A joint Thai-Malaysian pursuit operation followed immediately, but up to a week ago, no contact had been made with the guerrillas.
A dead Border Patrol Policeman is brought in - just one more statistic in the mounting government casualty rate. The Communists' answer to aerial bombardment has been booby traps and land mines, planted round their mountain base camp.
Anti-Communist propaganda is a familiar feature of the Thai government's campaign. An army psychological warfare unit is touring villages in the area.
The methods are crude but seemingly quite effective. Community singing and dancing may not seem much to Western eyes but they help bring the people together. Special certificates are issued if the villagers are considered to have responded well.
The propaganda unit moves off again. The new military-backed Thai regime initiated an active propaganda campaign soon after gaining power last year. It aims to encourage patriotism, the Buddhist religion and loyalty to the King.
The psychological warfare unit is part of the government's wider education policy, which includes the provision of strongly anti-Communist schoolbooks. Communist books are seized from libraries and destroyed.
This political pantomime is another part of the unit's routine. It may be rather basic but it scores on entertainment value if nothing else. And, as the guerrilla war escalates, the government needs all the support it can get from the people.