RCAF Says KR Refugees Going Home

Aid workers and military officials reported Thursday that a steady stream of displaced Khmer Rouge defectors have been leaving squatter camps and returning to Anlong Veng.

While the number of remaining defectors in camps at O Bai Tap and Svay Leu in Siem Reap pro­vince could not be independently confirmed, aid and military officials reported between 1,000 and 4,000 people, down from estimated camp populations of 10,000.

According to Meas Sophea, deputy chief of general staff for the RCAF, the defectors are re­turning by foot and truck for a two-day armed forces integration ceremony starting June 5. Co-Minister of Defense Tea Banh and defector leaders will attend the ceremony, Meas Sophea said.

Up to 13,000 people left the Anlong Veng area for Preah Vi­hear and Siem Reap provinces following a mass mutiny in the Khmer Rouge army. Another 15,000 or so fled to Thailand.

The government army captured Anlong Veng on May 12 from hard-line rebel elements and declared it safe to return.

Many people are making the four-day journey by foot and others are riding military trucks.

The Red Cross transported two convoys last week, but halted movements last Friday, partly be­cause of weather and security concerns.

(Add­ition­al reporting by Stew Magnuson)

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