The communist offensive against the Khmer Republic's capital, Phnom Penh, intensified this week with renewed attacks on the country's only deepwater port.
The communist offensive against the Khmer Republic's capital, Phnom Penh, intensified this week with renewed attacks on the country's only deepwater port. More heavy fighting along Highway Five leading to the Province of Battambang was also reported.
Both the port and the province are vital to the survival of the capital. Battambang supplies much of the city's rice requirements, and the port is essential for bringing in supplies and equipment from outside.
On Monday (17 June) Khmer Government troops claimed to have killed more than 310 communist-led insurgents and captured another 20 in a major battle along Highway Five, about 15 miles (25 kms) northwest of Phnom Penh. Three squadrons of Armoured Personnel Carriers, backed by troops from the 3rd and 7th Divisions, spear-headed the drive along the Highway in an attempt to relieve the camp at Long Vek.
The camp is an important strategic position if the road to Battambang is to be kept open to Phnom Penh. It lies 24 miles (38 kms) northwest of the capital, and has been he scene of heavy fighting between Government and insurgent forces for the last two months.
Government losses during the two-day operation, which began on Monday, were put at 21 killed and 45 wounded. According to the Khmer Command, ten machine guns, 40 rockets and 13 rifles were captured during the fighting.
By Thursday, the country's deepwater port at Kompong Som was being besieged by ten thousand insurgent troops. The day before, Government militery sources reported that two strategic positions on the outskirts of Kompong Som had been captured by the communists, and they continued to be in control of Highway Four which links the port with Pnom Penh.