SYNOPSIS: Highway Four, linking Phnom-Penh with the Khmer Republic's only deep-water port of Kompong Som, was cut by communist forces last week.
SYNOPSIS: Highway Four, linking Phnom-Penh with the Khmer Republic's only deep-water port of Kompong Som, was cut by communist forces last week. It went almost unnoticed by the people in Phnom-Ponh - they are more warred about the threat from the southwest.
These soldiers are in the front line. They ???elong to the 13th Brigade - once considered among the finest the Khmer Republic's Army. They are under the command of General Chantaraingsey - a relative of Sihanouk's. They have no orders to reppen Highway Four - just to hold their present position and, at the very most, prevent the insurgent forces form capturing any more of it.
It wasn't the case six months ago. The 13th Brigade moved through these areas in see-saw battles which left only rubble, refugees and dead on both sides. But that was when they had a reputation to keep up.
Kompong Spiok, threatened on four sides only two months ago, now faces a different challenge while Highway Four remains closed. It's starving slowly because the convoy's can't get through from Kompong Som. While Phnom-Penh feeds on Texas rice, Kompong Spieu nibbles on fly-infested fish and insect-ridden vegetables. The people say the 13th Brigade should open the road. They say the Khmer High Command is apathetic about them. So far nobody in the Phnom-lenh political race has heard them. The road will remain closed until the pressure has been taken off the capital.
This is Tom Aspell on Highway Four in the Khmer Republic.