• Short Summary

    Fierce fighting is continuing in many parts of the Khmer Republic despite the government's voluntary hold-down on offensive operations.

  • Description

    Fierce fighting is continuing in many parts of the Khmer Republic despite the government's voluntary hold-down on offensive operations.

    On Tuesday (6 February) Communist forces launched intense mortar barrages against government positions on the east bank of the Mekong river and cut another major highway. Fighting was also reported around the ancient temples of Angkor Wat and in other regions.

    Khmer troops on Monday (5 February) reopened Highway Four which had been cut earlier by Communist troops about 36 miles (57 Kms) west of Phnom Penh. The road links the capital with the deepwater port at Kompong Som. It was the first time the Khmer army had to reopen a major road without the possibility of calling in United States or South Vietnamese air support -- withdrawn after the Vietnam ceasefire. The Khmer troops met only light resistance when they moved towards positions which the Communists had captured two days earlier. Correspondents said this suggested the Communists had been merely moving across the road, rather than trying to hold it.

    While fighting continued, Phnom Penh itself was relaxed after the Lunar New Year festivities. And there was a certain amount of euphoria because of the ceasefire in neighbouring Vietnam.

    At the same time, the Khmer government has been extending its community rehabilitation schemes. One of these is at Phum Kandal, 30 miles (48 Kms) from Phnom Penh.

    SYNOPSIS: Fierce fighting continued this week in parts of the Khmer Republic despite a hold-down on offensive operations ordered by the government after the Vietnam ceasefire.

    On Monday, this artillery unit was supporting government troops fighting to reopen Highway Four, between Phnom Penh and the port of Kompong Som.

    The Communists held the road for two days before it was reopened.

    Less than 36 miles away from the fighting, it was peaceful, and the citizens of the capital, Phnom Penh, went about their business as usual, or relaxed after the Test New Year Festivities.

    Children played on military trucks similar to those taking troops to the fighting zones.

    And at Phum Kandal, south-west of the capital and even closer to the fighting, traditionally pacifist monks were taking part in another peaceful scene.

    Together with villagers and officials, the monks were attending the opening of a new community centre...part of the Khmer government's village rehabilitation programme. The centre was opened on Sunday, only a few miles from the fighting on Highway Four.

    The propaganda war continues, too. These anti-Communist posters were on display at the community centre.

    They reminded the villagers that the war was not yet over.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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