Government and Communist forces were on Monday (6 December) locked in a fierce close-combat duel for control of the western approaches to Phnom Penh.
Government and Communist forces were on Monday (6 December) locked in a fierce close-combat duel for control of the western approaches to Phnom Penh. The fighting -- mainly with mortars, automatic rifles and hand grenades, -- took place only 10 to 15 miles (16-24 kms) from the capital. Spearheading the Khmer resistance were Vietnamese-born troops from the crack Khmer Krom under the leader of veteran Colonel Danh Kroch. Visnews cameraman Neil Davis accompanied the soldiers as they battled against Communist forces entrenched in a heavily wooded area.
SYNOPSIS: Elite Khmer troops commanded by the colourful Colonel Danh Kroch are spearheading Khmer Government resistance to Communist assaults in the fierce fighting raging close to the Khmer capital - Phnom Penh. Government and Communist forces are locked in a ferocious battle for the western approaches to the capital. This week the colonel's Vietnamese-born troops went into battle around Phnom Baset, 14 miles (22 km.) northwest of the capital.
United States skyhawk bombers gave air support to the government forces as they came under intense fire from Communist positions in a heavily-wooded area only 80 yards (metres) away. They'd been sent in to try to relieve the nearby camp at Bat Doeng, which had been under severs artillery bombardment.
Despite the ferocity of the fighting, the Khmer troops suffered only four dead and about 12 wounded in the two-day engagement. On the first day they were planned down for six hours, and on the second they were pushed back slightly, but counter-attacked with a hail of grenades and small-arms fire. In the end, the battle turned into stalemate, and the fate of the besieged camp remained unknown. But in other areas, Government troops were reported to have suffered severs setbacks and heavy casualties. The fighting has been some of the toughest since war spread into the Khmer Republic 20 months ago.