Two Khmer Rouge Bases Reportedly Fall to Vietnamese
ARANYAPRATHET, Thailand (AP) _ Vietnamese forces seized two Communist Khmer Rouge guerrilla outposts in Cambodia after two days of ground and artillery attacks, sending 18,000 more refugees fleeing into Thailand, Thai military officers said.
Col. Chettha Thannajaro, deputy commander of the Thai border task force, said late Friday the civilians fled across a canal into Thai territory after the fighting at the guerrilla outposts of Phnom Tuek and Phnom Angkorpan, which are 37 miles south of this key Thai border town.
The new influx of refugees raised to 194,000 the number that have fled to Thailand and are receiving U.N. aid. About 30,000 have been in Thailand since April 1984, and the rest since Nov. 18, when the current Vietnamese offensive began.
The Khmer Rouge is one of three guerrilla groups fighting the estimated 160,000 Vietnamese troops occupying Cambodia.
Vietnam has apparantly prepared for a major assault on the strongholds of the Khmer Rouge in the mountains of western Cambodia after successfully overrunning seven camps of the non-communist Khmer People’s National Liberation Front.
The third guerrilla faction is loyal to former Cambodian leader Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who heads the opposition coalition.
This morning, the Khmer Rouge guerrillas counterattacked two Vietnamese positions, triggering retaliatory fire from artillery, mortars and rocket launchers, a Thai military source said.
Intelligence reports indicated one guerrilla was killed and five wounded in the hour-long exchange of fire at Phnom Mark Hoeun and Nikhom Mark Hoeun, in the area of the fallen outposts, the source said. No other details of today’s fighting were immediately available.
Exchanges of small arms fire between the guerrillas and the Vietnamese were also reported today in the Phnom Chakrey area. No details were available. Early today the Vietnamese used loudspeakers across the border from Aranyaprathet to warn Thais not to support the guerrillas. The Vietnamese also said if Thailand fired artillery into Cambodia, ″Thailand will be responsible for any incident which may occur.″
The warnings in the Thai and Cambodian languages could be heard at this town 3.7 miles from the border.
Thai and Vietnamese forces have sometimes engaged in limited clashes, and several Thai soldiers have been killed by Vietnamese fire. The Vietnamese accuse the Thais of giving the resistance artillery support, while the Thais say the Vietnamese intrude into Thailand in pursuit of the guerrillas.
Contacted by telephone Friday, Chettha said one Vietnamese battalion attacked the Khmer Rouge at Phnom Tuek while another struck at Phnom Angkorpan. He said a Vietnamese battalion contained about 300 men, but could not provide an estimate of the number of Khmer Rouge fighters in the area.
Chettha described the battalions as vanguard forces probing in advance of a larger scale attack.
Chettha said the two outposts were a half mile to a mile apart and close to the Khmer Rouge mountainous stronghold at Khao Tangoc.
The two attacking Vietnamese battalions were from the 59th Division, based at Nam Sub, about 15.5 miles east of Khao Tangoc.The Vietnamese recently sent reinforcements to Nam Sub, and currently maintain about 10,000 troops there, Chettha said.